Youth law change allows evidence from kids

| 30/06/2020 | 5 Comments
Cayman News Service
Attorney General Sam Bulgin in the LA on 29 June

(CNS): After changes to the Evidence Law to allow uncorroborated testimony from children to be admitted in criminal trials and considered by a jury without a warning, the Youth Justice law was amended this week to bring that legislation in line. The Youth Justice Law had required a jury to be directed to acquit when there was no corroboration for a child’s evidence, which created problems, especially in cases of sexual abuse.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin explained that historically, evidence in criminal trials given by children was not given the same weight as that by adults. If there was no other evidence to support a child’s claims, under the Evidence Law juries had to be warned about the danger of convicting a defendant based on that evidence alone.

He said that had led to acquittals in serious crimes, so the law was amended to stop the warning based purely on the fact that the evidence came from a child. But he explained that the Youth Justice Law still retained the provision, which was even more strict. That law required a judge to direct a jury to acquit an accused person if the evidence against them came only from one child.

Bulgin said the amendment, presented Monday, would repeal that requirement, placing a child’s evidence on a par with that given by an adult.

Judges can still issue warnings to juries for other reasons and also question a child to ensure that they understand the proceedings, but their evidence is no longer considered inferior to that coming from an adult. Bulgin said this would mean that trials will no longer be stopped purely because the case is based only on a child’s evidence and will go through the full process of deliberation.

See the amendment in the CNS Library

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Category: Courts, Crime, Laws, Politics

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous victim says:

    Bishop Sykes
    You of all people are saying that children should be silenced in giving testimonies to the courts?
    Remember people that children are being kidnapped by the thousands and the first document signed by President Trump was against human trafficking of children being kidnapped.

  2. Bishop Nicholas Sykes says:

    In order to remove one type of injustice – the impossibility of convicting a guilty person on a child’s evidence – we may have inadvertently constructed the even worse scenario of the possibility and even likelihood one day of convicting an innocent person on the evidence of a child who has been persuaded to bend his or her testimony.

    These things do happen, with Orwellian consequences. As has been witnessed by societies in the not too distant past and even in the present run by informers.

    • Anonymous says:

      “These things” also happen with adult witnesses, but no-one is suggesting that we should refuse to allow juries to consider their uncorroborated evidence. Where there is a lack of corroboration, the defence will inevitably bring that to the attention of the jury, who can take that into account in arriving at their decision.

      Many of the most serious offences committed against children by their very nature occur in circumstances where there is likely to be a lack of corroboration. The idea that those should be regarded as entirely off limits for prosecution is appalling.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How many wrongful convictions will this lead to? Stop this madness!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a good first step in protecting the rights of children. It’s amazing how the voices of children are treated as subhuman.

    A person can hurt an animal that can’t talk to testify about the crime, and said person can get prison time.

    Yet someone can walk free from a serious crime committed against a child who was brave enough to speak, all because the voice of the child is viewed as “inferior”.


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