Tuesday, 24 September 2019 00:00

ODPP TO COMMENCE USE OF ANATOMICAL DOLLS IN THE PROSECUTION OF SEXUAL OFFENSES INVOLVING CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE VICTIMS

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The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has this morning received anatomical dolls from CRANE (Children at Risk Action Network), an organization that supports prosecution of cases of sexual and gender based violence involving children.

The anatomical dolls will be used as demonstration aids to help young victims of Sexual violence to clearly show to court what happened to them and also aid the prosecutor to lead the evidence without compelling the victim to recite words that they may be uncomfortable mentioning in public. Vulnerable witnesses eg. the deaf, dumb may also use them.

Sexual offences form the bulk of cases handled by the ODPP at the High Court and most witnesses are children. Research shows that young children are better able to communicate through demonstration than through language and the dolls provide children with a road map of the body.

In a criminal trial, prosecution is required to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt. This the prosecutors do so through witnesses who are called to tell court what happened. Oftentimes, the court will require this witness to clearly state how they were abused and if they are unable to do so the case may be dismissed on grounds that the prosecution has failed to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt. Refer to the case of Uganda Vs. Apai where the victim could not clearly explain the sexual act in public and court acquitted the accused.

Uganda as a country has most of its beliefs on a strong cultural setting. Most of the cultures believe or perceive the sexual act as a bad act that is not to be discussed in the open. Because of the strong cultural restrictions, some witnesses find it difficult to openly talk about sexuality. Individuals, families, tribes, communities all use different terms to refer to sexual organs.

Given that most cases of child sexual abuse lack external corroborating evidence, children's verbal accounts of their experiences are of paramount importance to investigators and prosecutions. The use of the anatomical dolls by prosecutors is expected to improve access to justice for children and vulnerable victims of crime through improved success rate in prosecutions.

 

PR Office - 20th September 2019

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