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Temo: People 'shy to talk'

Repeka Nasiko
Sunday, December 03, 2017

LAWYERS have found it difficult to properly examine evidence or the details of a sex crime, says High Court judge Justice Salesi Temo.

While speaking to members of the Fiji Women Lawyers Association, stakeholders from the civil society and Government officials in Lautoka yesterday, he said this had led to an acquittal of the accused in some cases.

"People are shy to talk about it and find discussing it disgusting," he said.

"Even prosecutor and defence lawyers find it hard to discuss this in the courtroom and I see this day in, day out.

"I've seen young and senior prosecutors coming to prosecute rape cases, when it comes to the issues of penetration are too scared to ask relevant questions to the satisfaction of the judge because in a criminal case it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

"I've seen prosecutors coming to court on the issue of penetration, their cultural taboo and their inhibitions take over from their professional job requirements."

He said lawyers must not let emotion keep them from doing their work.

"In order for us to do our jobs we have to cut the emotion off our systems. We have to take the emotion out of our system.

"In a courtroom, when it comes to rape cases, genitalia are nothing but pieces of evidence.

"It's very private to us to talk about sex matters but in a courtroom that has to come out.

"Every detail of the rape. That is something that most prosecution counsels and even defence counsels find difficult to examine in a courtroom.

"A lot of accused in rape cases have been acquitted because of this. You end up with a complainant badly traumatised.

"She can't understand why that perpetrator has walked a free man from that court room simply because the prosecutor is not able to separate the cultural taboo from the professional requirements to examine those issues in detail."

Justice Temo was a keynote speaker at the Sex Crime in Fiji workshop organised by the Fiji Women Lawyers Association.

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