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Sur - Revista Internacional de Direitos Humanos

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JONKER, Gert  and  SWANZEN, Rika. Intermediary services for child witnesses testifying in South African criminal courts. Sur [online]. 2007, vol.3Selected edition, pp. 0-0. ISSN 1806-6445.

Efforts to reduce the trauma in an adversarial court system are complicated by the arguments that the prosecution of sexual abuse cannot take place in disregard of the rights of the alleged perpetrator. The questioning of a child witness is a very specialised task, and the prosecutors and defence counsel are not trained in these methods. Therefore, intermediary services to the child witness in court are important to reduce the trauma experienced by the child. This article aims to highlight that crimes against children and the subsequent criminal proceedings where the child is required to testify as a witness occurs frequently enough to warrant intermediary services to all child witnesses. Practical implications will be highlighted in order to improve the current intermediary process, regionally, provincially and nationally. Firstly, it will reflect on the intermediary services provided for child witnesses in some areas in the western suburbs of Johannesburg; secondly, it will discuss practical experiences and supportive literature, as well as the Bethany House's experience with the project Child in Crisis Foundation (SA).

Keywords : Child witness; Rights of children; Judgements; Intermediary system; Sexual violence; Victims; Court process; Prevention; Family violence; Assistance to victims.

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