The Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, a multi-year regional Caribbean judicial reform initiative (2014-2023) funded under an arrangement with the Government of Canada, and implemented on behalf of Global Affairs Canada (GAC) by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), present the Revised Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases.
A key initiative under the Project was the development of model guidelines for treating sexual offences cases and complainants of sexual assaults (including cases involving children), that is aimed at improving the capacity of courts to deliver gender responsive and customer focused court services.
In May 2015, a baseline study was commissioned through UN Women on the legislation, protocols and court systems for sexual offence cases conducted in five CARICOM countries. The following major gaps in the justice chain for sexual offences were identified:
- Poor investigative and evidence gathering procedures by the police;
- Inordinate delays in the completion of cases;
- Undervaluing of sexual offence cases in relation to the public interest so that limited resources are instead reserved for other “serious crimes” such as murder;
- Lack of data collection to form the basis of monitoring and accountability of the courts’ performance and quality in responding to sexual offence cases;
- Insufficient interconnectedness between the courts and the other key agencies required to facilitate proper investigation of the crimes and provide care of the victims throughout the process; and
- The survivors’ refusal to pursue cases for fear of re-victimisation by the very process of seeking justice.
In 2017, the JURIST Project in collaboration with the CCJ and judiciaries across the Caribbean region, launched The Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean Region. Since its launch a number of jurisdictions across the regions have adopted the Guidelines in various way.
In 2022, The Project engaged with stakeholders across the Caribbean region to identify ways that the Model Guidelines could be further strengthened in keeping with new an emerging best practices in the adjudication of sexual violence. This documents represents that 2022 Revised version.