Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley has called for in camera hearing of domestic violence cases as a means of protecting victims.
Speaking in Parliament this afternoon during debate on the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill 2016, Lashley said due to the sensitive nature of those cases, it was better for them to be heard in private.
“I am certainly in favour of a situation where complaints that are brought before the courts that are related to domestic violence, in fact to any family-related matter, I am in favour of those matters being held in camera.
“And I believe that it certainly must be the intent as legislators to ensure that what we are seeking to do is not to plaster or put out in the public’s domain the intimate details of family disputes. I do not believe that is the intention of this House,” the Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Central said.
“What we want to do is to have a situation where disputes as they occur within the home can be resolved and that complainants, whether they are male or female, feel sufficiently sure-footed and they don’t feel embarrassed because of the open nature of how many of our matters are dealt with in our court system, but they feel a sense of confidentiality that matters which occur in the home are addressed in a confidential matter.”
Lashley said failure to do so could result in victims opting not to press charges, fearing that the details could be made public.
“I hope that we get to the stage where once we have matters before the court in relation to domestic violence, that complainants can be assured that their next door neighbor or persons whom they know, will not have the opportunity of going and sitting in a court and hearing all of the intimate details that would inform the complaint.
“So I think that certainly has got to be one of the things that we do. I don’t necessarily believe that it needs to be a part of the legislation, but I think certainly the practice of the court can evolve to the point where we have a practice which actually determines that these matters are held in camera,” the minister advised.