Dominica’s Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Evelina Baptiste, has acknowledged that 2015 was a challenging year for her office, and increases in sexual offenses was a major concern, among other crimes.
Addressing a National SecurityMinistry year-end briefing last week, the DPP said, “We are concerned about the increase in sexual offenses, as well as other crimessuch as burglary, which is probably the second fastest growing crime being committed in Dominica”.She said notwithstanding the challenges, “We worked hard throughout the year, to really execute our constitutional remit, which is the control of prosecution.”She pointed out that crimes affect the country’s economic and social development.
“If you have too many burglaries or other crimes on business places, they probably will end up shutting down,” Baptiste explained. “For people who may want to come and invest in Dominica, this is one of the things they look at”. She added, “We have issues with the status of the law, and maybe with some of the systems that we now use, and we are hoping that matter can be revisited; especially the matter of sentencing. I have heard the public talk a lot about sentencing that criminals get. This is an issue that is pressing,and especially as it relates to sexual offenses.”
Meantime, Ray Harris, Legal Advisor heading the law revision office said sexual offenses have become much too pervasive in Dominica.“Historically you find victims are afraid to come forward, because they are sometimes under tremendous pressure, not to make a complaint. We have to deal with all these things”.He said that the Ministry of Justice has put together a small Committee to focus on sexual offenses, and work on ways to improve the law in Dominica.The committee is comprised of the DPP, the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, State Attorney Auguiste, and Police Officer Inspector Antonia Moses.“We have been working assiduously over the last month and a half,” he said.
Harris mentioned that the committee is expected to provide a report to the Minister of Justice by the second week of January 2016.“I can assure you when we are through with this process, our Sexual Offenses Act would have been strengthened tremendously,” he said.
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