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Antigua: New committee to look at strengthening laws after sex case debate

A three-member committee has been put in place to address the issue of whether a minor (person under the age of 18 years) can refuse to testify and how to treat a hostile witness in cases where prosecution is deemed to be in the public interest.

These have been issues for decades in Antigua and Barbuda, but the recent discontinuation of a kidnapping and rape case against a policeman who allegedly preyed on a 13-year-old girl, revived the debate on them and caused widespread anger and disappointment.

Earlier this week, the child told the court she did not want to proceed with the case because he has forgiven the accused and does not wish to relive the experiences of July 2016.

Her decision came after speaking with her counsellor from Family and Social Services, the prosecutor Shannon Jones-Gittens, as well as her mother, all of whom tried to persuade her not to refuse to testify.

But, the child maintained for several months that she did not want to relive the experience in court and wanted to move on, forcing the prosecutor to withdraw the case due to the absence of other corroborating evidence such as eyewitnesses or forensics and DNA.

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