“It’s injustice that most times cases of rape and violence against women suffer prosecution”.
The Bayelsa Government has said it will seek legal intervention to address challenges in the prosecution of rape cases and violence against women in the state.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kemasuode Wodu, stated this on Friday in Yenagoa when he received members of the Committee on Violence Against Women and Girl-Child in his office.
The five-member committee which was inaugurated two weeks ago by Governor Seriake Dickson is headed by Vivian Odiowe, a retired permanent secretary.
Mr. Wodu said there was an urgent need for a new law to provide legal framework in dealing with challenges facing prosecutors in getting justice for victims of rape and violence against women in the state.
“’Felony is a criminal offence which is punishable. So, it’s injustice that most times cases of rape and violence against women suffer prosecution.
“For justice to be achieved, there is an urgent need for legislative intervention to help the prosecution process.
“’We may have to propose a law to the governor to make it a criminal offence for a person who knows a case of rape or any form of violence against women and refuses to report it.
“It will also apply to a person who has evidence in a case of such and refuses to give out such evidence to support the prosecution process,’’ he said.
Mr. Wodu decried instances whereby parties involved in rape cases decide to abandon legal prosecution and settle out of court.
“’It is injustice to the victim who bears the pain and lives with stigma for life. Most times, some of these victims end up committing suicide because of the stigma that goes with it.
As the Attorney-General of this state, I want to assure you that we will support the work of your committee in a collective resolve to getting justice for all victims of rape and violence against women.’’
Earlier, Ms. Odiowe had informed the commissioner of the committee’s task and terms of reference.
She said the committee members decided to visit the attorney-general and seek his assistance, and the ministry in the discharge of their assignment.
“We are here today because of the importance of the place of justice in carrying out the task given to us as a committee.
“We also want to acquaint you with some of the references that concern the Ministry of Justice in our collective responsibilities to check injustice against victims of rape and violence against women,’’ she said.
Ms. Odiowe expressed dismay over the rampant incidence of abandoned prosecution of rape cases and sexual violence against women in the state.
According to her, settling cases of such criminal offence out of court amounted to grave injustice to the victims.
“The problem facing the prosecution of these cases is that most times, parties involved are coerced to settle their matter out of court. This is injustice to the victim involved.
“I think if one or two cases of rape and violence had been prosecuted successfully, others will learn.
“We want this settling out of court to stop because this committee is ready to follow such cases to its conclusion,’’ Ms. Odiowe said.
She called for the appointment of a desk officer in the ministry to help the committee collate all relevant records of cases of rape and violence against women to aid adjudication and documentation.