Gates urges victim care

CHIEF Justice Anthony Gates admitted that there was a hole in Fiji’s justice system in terms of the accommodation of the interests of witnesses.

In an interview after a panel discussion with lawyers on Saturday, Justice Gates said this was why he brought forward the idea of the setting up of a witnesses commission.

He said the idea was one that needed to be debated because it also had a cost element.

“It’s an idea I put forward because a witness commission could independently look at the use of face witnesses,” he said.

“Sometimes it is felt in victims of sexual violence cases that no one is really bothered about them and they need some comfort along the way to support them while they go through this ordeal.”

Justice Gates said non-government organisations could help as an independent commission for witnesses would be able to look after their interests.

“They may also help them with counselling, medical treatment, psychotic treatment if necessary and some other things.

“I do think there is a gap here in the justice system. There’s nobody looking after the interest of witnesses. Witnesses, who are the real victims, often feel as if nobody bothers about them.

“I think it is something that can be done in Fiji. After all we are a caring society to look after people in these circumstances who are feeling very weak and vulnerable,” he said.

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