Consistency of sentencing in sexual violence cases urgently needed

The RCNI today calls for sentencing guidelines to be developed as a matter of urgency – and support the Law Reform Commission’s call for same in their report released today entitled, ‘Report on Mandatory Sentencing’.

On behalf of victims of rape nationwide, we call on Minister Shatter to support the Irish judiciary in their need for sufficient support and data on sentencing and call for the full and adequate resourcing of the work of the Irish Sentencing Information System, and the research on sentencing being undertaken by Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

RCNI Director, Fiona Neary said ‘each survivor’s experience of the justice system, including sentencing, is unique. For a victim whose case has gone to court and secured a conviction, sentencing is hopefully the final step in the justice process. It is helpful to every survivor to have reliable information on what to expect. Any lack of clarity and information on sentencing is unhelpful. Victims can see the sentences which cause controversy in the media – however these may not be typical of sentencing in rape cases – public responses to these exceptions can put victims off reporting because they do not have the full information. Guidelines on sentencing would also help victims of rape in deciding to report and knowing what to expect.

‘Rape Crisis Centres support survivors through this lengthy and demanding justice process. With the support the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime RCNI provides nationwide training to Rape Crisis Centre support workers and volunteers in providing advocacy and support through the legal process.’

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Notes:

RCNI is the national representative body for the Rape Crisis sector in Ireland.
The Law Reform Commission today launch the Report on Mandatory Sentences, one of its main recommendations is that, ‘the Commission supports previous recommendations (including in the 2011 Report of the Thornton Hall Review Group) that a Judicial Council should be able to develop and publish suitable guidance or guidelines on sentencing.’

For information please contact Cliona on 087 2196447