We assume the facts in the report ‘Accuser testifies at PI into molestation charges against Muslim scholar,’ (SN, Wed, Sept 11, 2013) are correct.
The First Schedule s.43, Paper Committals For Sexual Offences of the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) 2010 spells out the procedure to be followed by magistrates in a paper committal. Paragraph 11(4) of this schedule instructs evidence to be taken as a deposition before the magistrate in certain circumstances. Paragraphs 12 -14 spell out the ways that evidence should be tendered as a result of submissions by the defence (14: 2(b) … by being read out loud… or description shall be given of so much of any statement as is not read aloud). There is no mention of taking evidence and cross-examination of witnesses anywhere in the schedule.
So what does the September 11 report mean? That the magistrate and the defence lawyer have reverted to the laws which have been repealed by the SOA 2010 and are acting in contravention of the law?
Given the successful training being done by the Chancellor’s office in relation to the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, I hope that the Chancellor has taken note of the news report, and that the supervisors of judicial and magisterial matters will ensure some clarification and if need be, correction of this situation.
Karen de Souza
For Red Thread
Stabroek News understands that this is a Preliminary Inquiry, not a paper committal.