The Legislation Changed, What About The Reality?
AbstractFollowing the disclosure of sexual abuse it should be the right of every child to ‘have their day’ in court and to assume that the court process will be, within the constraints of the legal justice system, as child focused as possible. This paper will show that while steps have been undertaken within the criminal justice system in Queensland, Australia, to ameliorate the trauma caused to young children when they are required by law to appear as a witness in court, the reality is that many of these children still face the old, and sadly devastating, fact that the process remains unchanged and decidedly ‘unchild’ focused. What this reality means for young children who are exposed to the adult-centric world of the criminal justice system is that they are often re-abused by the very system that has been developed to assist them; a system that ultimately leaves the child, and their families, believing that if the court brings down a not-guilty verdict then what the court is in fact saying is that they, the child, must be guilty of lying. While recent legislation in Queensland, Australia, has passed legislation for the giving of testimony by closed circuit television, the reality is that very few courts in Queensland have this technology available for use and of those that do it is sometimes the case that the technology is out of working order.
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