An analysis of children should be allowed to testify in court

However, children often appear in court knowing very little about the proceedings, the roles of the various professionals involved and their own role within this setting.

This statement was validated by Kaufman and Richter's study. A significant amount of evidence was presented to the Inquiry that children are frequently traumatised by their court appearance due to these factors. A description of the intermediary The introduction of South Africa's Criminal Law Amendment Act ofwhich came into effect on 1 August brought the following about in criminal cases with child witnesses, as summarised in the following table by Viviers: 9 Combrink and Durr-Fitchen 10 highlighted that persons who are competent to be appointed as intermediaries in terms of categories determined by law will not necessarily be suitable intermediaries.

Child testimony in court

When the trauma is inflicted by a person known to the child, the suffering may be more intense and persistent. Judicial officers should ensure children have appropriate breaks and are not questioned for excessive periods of time. One of the major problems when assessing the validity of child witnesses is the suggestibility of the child. Where these rights have been violated - such as in sexual abuse, it is imperative that the response from societal institutions such as justice and welfare not only seek to protect children from further abuse of their rights but also seek to actively redress some of the violations that have taken place. Proper understanding of the cautionary rule of practice where the factual adjudicator must warn himself to be cautious in evaluating evidence which practice has shown to require circumspection. Table 3 gives the following demographic detail regarding child witnesses that can be used to offer a profile of the typical child client in the Bethany House service area: Eighty-five percent of the witnesses are girls. Jarman, "Can the intermediary system work for child victims of sexual abuse? In the Gauteng Province there are girls in the age group 10 to 14 years. Figure 4 shows the outcome of criminal cases. Where appropriate, child witness units should be developed in the office of each DPP.

The child has the right to have procedures dealt with expeditiously in time frames appropriate to the victim and the offence. Not only is the judicial process compromised by this, but the child witness remains in limbo as far as the "healing process" is concerned.

child witness cases

In these situations, the DPP has been able to meet and develop a rapport with child witnesses early in the case and to develop an understanding of the abilities of and protections needed by individual child witnesses at trial.

They should provide individualised assistance to children appearing as witnesses in civil and criminal proceedings.

Can a 3 year old testify in court

Introduction Children can be reluctant to talk to yet another stranger. The high number of cases withdrawn in the court is of concern. The intermediary is fitted with earphones. All child victims in sexual offence cases in need of care and protection should be able to rely on a responsive welfare system. Courts should develop this information in conjunction with the relevant State and Territory authorities. Search our content:. Data derived from this application can be used to inform policy and budget planning in services to children by welfare, police and justice departments. This happens when crucial evidence is lost e. The frustration with regard to developing a database such as the one mentioned above is confirmed by the experience of Coughlan and Jarman 14 who state that to date there is very little, if any, research on the intermediary system's use in South Africa. Website accessed on March 13,

Van der Merwe, "Aspects of sentencing in child sexual abuse cases" in K. These authors highlight that the context within which the child offers her witness may be causing more harm that it is worth.

Bethany House trained a core team of intermediaries, launched an awareness and educational campaign in order that all court officials became aware of and started to utilise the service. Experiments that involve the effects of postevent information on a prior memory representation were performed by Rovee-Collier et al involving three-month-old babies.

What is encouraging about the information gained from the data on the case outcome is that there were no mistrials.

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Intermediary services for child witnesses testifying in South African criminal courts