Pre-trial proceduresPre-trial Procedures
Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release
22 June 2012
Announcement of Autumn Piloting of Pre-trial Procedures to address delay will be of great significance to rape victims
Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) welcomes Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter’s indication at the recent Eolas Magazine Justice Conference, “Towards affordable and efficient justice”, that pre-trial procedures would be piloted in a number of Circuit Courts both in and outside Dublin, from October 2012. Pre-trial procedures were also advocated by several other expert speakers at the conference.
RCNI has previously welcomed the Government’s Legislative Programme inclusion of a Criminal Procedure Bill to provide for the reform of pre-trial procedures, and the DPP’s call for pre-trial procedures at the recent Prosecutors’ Conference.
Executive Director Fiona Neary said, ‘the impact of delay in court cases cannot be underestimated for victims of sexual violence. Many victims are waiting years for their case to reach court and simply cannot move on with their lives. For other victims it is a factor in deciding whether or not to report at all. The Minister’s indication that pre-trial procedures will be piloted from October 2012 therefore is to be welcomed. We have lobbied long and hard for such reform.
The RCNI believe that the average length of time from return for trial to the trial taking place in the Central Criminal Court could be reduced significantly from the unacceptable high of over 16 months, as found by the RCNI commissioned research Rape and Justice in Ireland (RAJI) in 2009. Through effective pre-trial procedures this delay could be reduced to 3 – 6 months, in line with that existing in other jurisdictions.
‘RCNI has long recognised that delays in progressing cases to court, is in many instances a preventable trauma for survivors of sexual violence. We are also very much aware that these delays often represent an enormous waste of precious resources. For these reasons the reform of legal practice and policy with regard to delay has been central to RCNI’s legal advocacy for the past 4 years.’
Following an examination of procedure in other countries, RCNI proposed pre-trial procedures as a vital part of the solution to the problem of delay in June 2008, in its submission on the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence 2010-2014. Following its welcome inclusion for examination in the National Strategy, RCNI worked through the National Steering Committee on Violence against Women to progress a detailed discussion paper on pre-trial hearings to completion, with the help of other stakeholders including senior lawyers.
RCNI will continue to advance this theme through formal and informal inter-agency structures including working with Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and other agencies to build on the growing consensus in favour of pre-trial procedures across the criminal justice system.’
For further information please contact
Clíona Saidléar 087 2196447