Review Scottish Law for victims; sexual abuse, attempted rapes and domestic abuse.
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One of the key aspects of the Scottish law of evidence is that no person may be convicted of a criminal charge on the evidence of a single witness. In most cases of sexual assault, rape & domestic abuse, the crime is committed in privacy without any witnesses other than the accused and the victim. This causes great difficulty with the prosecution and conviction of the criminal in court.
We are calling on MSPs to support the removal of corroboration in Scots Law and improve access to justice for survivors of sexual assault.
Currently there are a significant numbers of victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse whose cases do not get to court - 2800 cases of domestic abuse in the last 2 years and 170 rape cases. ( Lord Advocate’s evidence to the Justice Committee of the Criminal Justice Bill).
This is particularly the case for crimes of domestic abuse and sexual violence which in the main happen in private, without witnesses.
There are currently a range of protective safeguards for the accused including the right to silence with no negative inference, the right to legal representation from the very outset, no access to medical or personal records is allowed and no previous convictions (with the exception of the rarely used provisions in the Sexual Offences (Criminal Procedure) (Scotland) Act 2002) can be referred to. None of which are available to the victim whose whole life is scrutinised as part of their experience in court.
The victim is a girl under 12 years of age. She was going to play with friends when she was grabbed by the accused and pulled behind a building. She recognised the accused as he lives near her. The accused unfastened his trousers and she could see he was wearing distinctive underwear. He put his hand under her clothing and indecently touched her. She tried to run off but he stopped her and threatened her. She managed to run away again but tripped over items and was grabbed again. She managed to break free again, ran home and told a family member what happened. She was screaming hysterically and showed where the accused had touched her. The accused was detained a short while later and was found to be wearing similar clothing and underwear as that described by the victim. On going to the locus, the police found a number of items which the victim had described, all of which support the credibility of the account given by the victim. No action could be taken as there was no corroboration in law of the commission of a crime.
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