THE EDITOR, Sir:
"We, too, are outraged by the abuse of women and children in our society and other forms of crime. But new laws are not, by themselves, the solution.
"An efficient police force that solves crimes and a court system that disposes of cases are essential."
- Gleaner editorial, October 2, 2012
This was one of The Gleaner's responses to the outrage from a wide cross section of society following the brutal gang rape of five females in St James and the call for new legislation and stiffer penalties for perpetrators of sexual crimes.
Although new laws are not, by themselves, the solution, they will form the basis for improvements in our justice system to increase the likelihood of convicting and punishing appropriately murderers, sex offenders and perpetrators of other crimes.
Anecdotal data suggest that more than half the cases of rape are not reported, and less than half of reported cases will go to court. Of those cases which are prosecuted, less than half result in conviction. Based on this trend outlined, only an estimated 10 per cent or less of cases
One of the main reasons for this is, in rape cases, the law cannot compel a suspect to provide DNA samples (which are individual specific) and the prosecution, therefore, has to rely heavily on circumstantial evidence and suspects are given the benefit of any doubt by the jurors. It is always very difficult to convict rapists, and the deterrence is, therefore, minimal.
Outdated legislation seriously hampers the investigative and prosecutorial processes and helps to create the huge backlog of cases in the courts.
To strengthen our justice system, it is of utmost importance that new legislation keeps abreast
Many rape cases will go unreported because the victims or their families think the humiliation in court is not worth it, given the minimal chances of a conviction. When people lose confidence in the justice system, they will easier resort to vigilantism.
Laws enforced will ensure order in society. But the irony is (as one prominent defence attorney opined) that outdated laws become a recipe for anarchy.
DAIVE R. FACEY