Child abuse cases cry out in High Courts

By Chandani Kirinde

More than 4,000 cases or nearly 30 percent of all the cases pending before the High Courts are related to child abuse, a survey undertaken by the Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms has revealed.

This disturbing find not only highlights the rising cases of child abuse in the country but also how the slow process involved in punishing offenders is making it difficult to successfully prosecute abusers, National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) Chairman Jagath Wellawatte said.

The highest number of child abuse cases pending before courts is from Embilipitiya, (51.26 per cent) followed by Polonnaruwa (45.27) and Ratnapura (40.17 per cent). Mr. Wellawatte said the delay in prosecuting offenders would in most instances result in the culprits getting away unpunished.

He said the delays in prosecuting child abuses did not happen only in the court. He said that initially there was a delay on the part of the Police in apprehending suspects and completing their investigating, following which the cases were handed over to the Attorney General’s Department for prosecution.

He said there was also a delay at this stage and further delay once the indictments were served as child abuses cases were heard along with other cases that come up before the High Court.

“It is time we had a special court to hear child abuse cases so that culprits can be speedily punished,” he said.

Justice Minister Milinda Moragoda is to appoint a special committee in this connection shortly to study and recommend modalities for speedily disposal of child abuse cases pending in the High Court, a Ministry official said.

Of the 14,966 cases pending in High Courts across the country, 4032 or 26.94 percent are pertaining to cases of child abuse.

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