Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) on Thursday ordered the courts to conclude all cases involving child sexual abuse, within a period of six months from the date of submission.
As per a circular signed by Judicial Administrator Dr Abdulla Nazeer, child sexual abuse cases must receive priority, and courts are to complete all administrative arrangements within 24 hours of receiving the case.
Upon commencing the trial after the lawfully mandated period, hearings must be held regularly with no more than 48 hours between them. DJA ordered the courts to schedule hearings in advance and duly inform the plaintiff and defence. Accordingly, all cases of child sexual abuse must be closed within six months at the latest.
The circular also stated that courts must share details of these hearings with DJA at the end of each month. DJA said that these developments are to safeguard the interests of the accused and public, and protect the victims and witnesses.
DJA's order comes in the middle of the investigation into the sexual abuse of a two-year-old by her paternal grandfather and great-grandfather in Kanduhulhudhoo, Gaafu Alif Atoll. The case came to light on January 16 and sparked public outrage, while several more cases of child sexual abuse also surfaced within the following week.
Amidst public backlash and pressure, the Judicial Service Commission held talks with the courts earlier on expediting child sexual abuse cases, and instructed DJA to make the necessary arrangements.