|BETTER PROTECTION FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT WITNESSES
30 October 2013
BETTER PROTECTION FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT WITNESSES
Laws protecting sexual assault victims from coming face-to-face with their attacker will be made more comprehensive, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.
“Already a complainant is able to give evidence via closed circuit television or behind a screen at the trial of the person accused of committing a sexual offence against them,” Mr Smith said.
“But under current laws, they may not always be entitled to such protections when giving evidence at a separate trial involving the same accused person, but a different victim.”
“The government will amend the law so that sexual offence witnesses would be able to testify from a private location at these trials, regardless of what type of evidence they were required to give,” he said.
“This means they would be protected even if their testimony didn’t concern the offences against them, but other matters that helped to corroborate the evidence of the complainant. This could include evidence about dates such as holidays, locations such as the layout of a home, or about habits of the accused.”
The amendment of the law responds to the advice of the interagency Sexual Assault Review Committee, which includes NSW Police, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Giving evidence in court is difficult enough, but being asked to give evidence on more than one occasion in front of the same accused must be a most traumatic and harrowing experience.”
“If victims are asked to give evidence again in another trial, the least we can do is make sure they have available to them the same protections that make this difficult task a little bit easier,” he said.
“The government will be introducing an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act into parliament this week to clarify the legislation to leave no doubt that these protections apply to sexual offence witnesses when giving any type of evidence in trials for sexual offences.”