Criminal Justice System is Failing Rape Victims According to Report

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland has published ground breaking research into rape and its treatment within the criminal justice system. The research, which was carried out by NUI Galway s School of Law, had the participation of 100 survivors of recent adult rape, examined almost 600 DPP files and further examined over 170 Central Criminal Court trials and the transcripts of appealed cases. The research was prompted by Ireland s increasing levels of reporting of rape and decreasing convictions. The four-year study, entitled "Rape and Justice in Ireland", looks at different key stages of our criminal justice system, and reveals insights that have not previously been documented in Ireland before. Fiona Neary, Director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said: "We know from victims that the Criminal Justice System is failing in rape cases. Ireland s conviction rate from reported incidents to conviction is amongst the lowest in Europe. Survivors in Rape Crisis Centres tell us of their fears about reporting. They talk of the lack of dignity and respect in how they are treated; how they feel it is they who are on trial, and how their voice is ignored by the system. For those who have a positive experience of reporting, they also feel isolated and lost, are not kept informed, and have been unable to move on with their lives because of the years waiting for their case to come to court". This research, which was headed by NUI Galway s Conor Hanley, had the full, unreserved, and by and large, unprecedented cooperation of key agencies, from the Rape Crisis sector to the DPP and the Court Services. Never before has such extensive and reliable data on our legal system been documented. Given the breath of the research, the findings have application beyond rape cases. For example, there is a thorough examination of whether or not complainants use Victim Impact Statements to seek vengeance and thus abuse the system. This report looks at the journey from incident to conviction and how cases fail to engage with, simply fall out or are dropped out of the Criminal Justice System along the way. Hanley and his team have made wide-ranging recommendations for reform in the legal system and in society. For a copy of the report visit visit www.rcni.ie.
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