The Sexual Offences Model Court (SOMC) was established by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda with the support from the Government of Canada through the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project; and with the support from Caribbean Court of Justice. The Court is a set of specialized court procedures for the treatment of sexual offence cases including a dedicated courtroom and presiding judge assigned to the hearing of sexual offences. It aims to ensure that victims of Gender-Based Sexual Violence (GBSV) have access to justice and reparation by providing timely, gender responsive, and coordinated response to complainants of sexual assault cases; ensuring greater coordination between the courts and agencies that provide services to sexual assault complainants; improving the monitoring and evaluation of sexual offence cases; and reducing the secondary revictimization that complainants experience.
The special procedures implemented by the court include tighter pre-trial management for the quicker resolution of cases, fast tracking process for sexual offence cases, assigning only judges, court administrators, police and prosecutors, with specialized training to sexual offence cases, using video conferencing technology to allow vulnerable complainants to give evidence from a remote testimony room, the provision of a special waiting room at the High Court and court orientation for complainants in sexual assault cases; and integrating the support services offered by the Directorate of Gender Affairs ( DoGA) [Support and Referral Centre (SARC)] and the Family and Social Services Division (FSSD) to both adult and child complainants. This will allow complainants to give their report, conduct their medical examination, get counselling, and be assigned survivor advocates. All these services will be available at the SARC, which is operated by DoGA.
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