To: Justice Minister

Abolish Good Character references in rape trials

Logo of Rape Crisis Centre NI

The Central Criminal Courts in Sligo saw Justice Keane excert his Judicial power in disallowing character references for the mitigating process. Which we commend at RCNI. Not only is this process re-traumatising it is unnecessary in proving someone is not a rapist. Good character tells us nothing about consent and we feel by continuing to allow such evidence, perpetuates rape myths, stereotypes and compounds suffering of victims and survivors during the criminal justice process.

Similarly, in the North good character references are allowed during rape trials- we feel this is a huge omission of the key recommendations from the Gillien Review 2019.

For example, one of the key recommendations at point 4 stresses the need for measures to be introduced at the outset of the trial to combat rape myths. We feel by contining to allow such evidence in court perpetuates the rape myth that if someone can provide a good character reference, they are therefore not a rapist- we feel this is counterproductive and adds nothing towards the judicial and evidential requirements in proving there was consent beyond reasonable doubt.

We call for immediate action by the Justice Minister to ensure Victims and survivors of sexual trauma are protected during the Court process. But also to dispell prevelant rape myths throughout our society that good character means someone is not capable of rape.

Why is this important?

To ensure Victims and survivors of sexual trauma are protected during the Court process. But also to dispell prevelant rape myths throughout our society that good character means someone is not capable of rape.

Northern Ireland, UK

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