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Sierra Leone News: Black Tuesday calls for tougher laws against rapists

Sierra Leone is contemplating reviewing its laws to make it easier to prosecute rapists, the country’s Justice Minister has disclosed. Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Priscilla Schwartz, was quoted on Tuesday 4 December 2018, as saying the idea is to place the burden of proof of guilt on the accused, rather than the accuser. Schwartz was speaking at a high level forum on gender-based violence (GBV), as part of commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism, a global campaign against GBV. Sierra Leone is said to have one of the highest rates of sexual abuse cases, particularly underage rape. The last few weeks have seen a spike in cases of rape, leading to calls for the toughening of penalties. A “wear black” day marked the increase in rapes and sexual assaults and was initiated by a 5-year old victim who was left paralyzed with a spinal cord injury after being raped. Campaigners blame the situation on the failure to prosecute offenders, which is also the cause of many factors that include religious and cultural practices. But there is also the issue of lack of expertise, in the form of trained investigators to provide evidence for successful prosecution. “If offenses of such nature are committed with impunity, then we have failed our children and generations unborn. We want justice under the law for this little girl and every other victim of sexual penetration. We at L.A.W.Y.E.R.S will not relent, we shall pursue the course of justice for this child,” said Fatmata Sorie, President of L.A.W.Y.E.R.S. This, said the Justice Minister, is among changes her Ministry is working on. “There is need to train investigators on how to gather and secure evidence for successful prosecution,” she said. Baindu Dassama, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, is supporting recent statements calling for life imprisonment for rapists.

5/12/18

Thursday December 06, 2018.

 

 

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