The poor criminal justice system in Nigeria has been identified as one of the impediments for rape survivors to access justice.
This was disclosed by Nelson Olanipekun, Founder and Team Lead, Citizen’s Gavel while featuring as a panelist on a twitter chat organized by BONews Service and the Human Rights Journalists Network.
The twitter chat with the theme – ‘Getting Justice for Rape Survivors – Legal Provisions and Challenges’ also featured Omowumi Ogunrotimi, Founder and Executive Director, Gender Mobile Initiative as co-panelist.
Olanipekun explained that there are bottlenecks in the justice process which include incessant adjournments and lack of diligent prosecution are parts of reasons survivors find it difficult to access justice.
He said, “Evidence gathering is important and most victims do not have this evidence or at times may be unwilling to go through the process of getting evidence. To gather good evidence could take months to years especially when the unfortunate incident is not fresh
“Also, our criminal justice process is not smooth. There are many bottlenecks such as incessant adjournments, lack of diligent prosecution from prosecutors’ agencies etc.,” he added.
On her part, Omowumi Ogunrotimi identified some socio-legal factors as being responsible for delayed and denial of justice for rape survivors.
She added that, “Socio-legal factors such as culture of silence, social stigma, poor penal provisions to deter offenders, prolonged investigation of rape cases, obsolete policy and legal framework, patriarchy.
“The stakeholders & ministers in the temple of justice are not immune to these stereotypes and myths which could influence their sense of judgment. We need to desensitize ourselves.
“These are expressed in lines such as a previous consensual sexual activity between parties imparts on a person’s right to refuse consent on another occasion or to withdraw consent to further sexual activity. That wearing a skimpy dress is an invitation to treat,” she added.
On ensuring that survivors get justice, the duo, who are lawyers, recommended that proper investigation be done with certain strategies and measures put in place.
“Proper and detailed investigations must be conducted, accelerated hearing of rape cases should be adopted, where applicable tech should be adopted in the administration of justice, ACJA must be followed strictly,” says Olanipekun.
Ogunrotimi said, “there is a growing consensus on the need to engage boys and men in ending rape. Engaging boys and men as rapists or potential perpetrators can render d effort counterproductive. There is a need for constructive engagement.
“Ending rape requires adoption and implementation of strategies and approaches that reinforce and complement one another which must be sustained.
“Finally, we need to audit our practices through record keeping/data collection on attrition of cases through the 4 stages of the justice process, duration of cases & outcome of police investigations and prosecutions,” she added.