Ireland Imprisons Rape Victim For Refusing to Testify

Posted on March 13, 2012


Ireland Imprisons Rape Victim For Refusing to Testify

A woman who alleged that she was the victim of a gang rape in Ireland was arrested and temporarily imprisoned after a judge said she must to stand directly in front of the three accused and point out her alleged assailants.

Reporters present in court described her as visibly distressed.

The victim became so distressed that lawyers told the court they feared she might collapse. When she failed to appear in court the day after the forced identification, a warrant was issued for her arrest.

The trial was abandoned and the men were acquitted.

She was arrested in the hospital after receiving medical treatment for an apparent suicide attempt and spent a day in the court’s jail cells. She had left a note for her partner saying she was too scared to return to the court.

The judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, could order a retrial, but he said:

“If she has to spend a long time in prison herself waiting for a retrial that’s her fault.”

Campaigners have condemned the treatment of the woman by Carney and the case has provoked demands for a major overhaul of the way rape trials are conducted in Ireland.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland Director Fiona Neary, said that it was highly unusual for a victim to be required to do a dock identification.

“What is apparent is that she found it traumatising and made a decision shortly afterwards to withdraw her cooperation from the trial. The implications of that decision and the implications of the decisions and actions of the professionals involved that followed are deeply concerning. The resulting position the witness was placed in was unacceptable,” Neary said.

“Standards must include handling cases of this nature with sensitivity, empathy and compassion. Such a standard is not only in the interest of the State not causing trauma to an already vulnerable witness, but is also in the interest of gathering the best evidence and facilitating the testing of the prosecution’s evidence in court.”

“It is unacceptable that this vulnerable woman was put through these ordeals. Whatever the reasons for this sequence of events, we need to look at finding ways to ensure that it is never repeated.”

Ireland has one of the highest attrition rates for rape and sexual assault cases in Europe.
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