Moot Court Guyana has partnered with the Social Protection Ministry to bring greater
Sara Bovell and the other members of the defence team receive the winning prize
awareness particularly to youths about sexual offences and domestic violence which have plagued society.
The Moot Court, which was formed by law students of the University of Guyana about three years ago, sought to host mock trials on various topics aimed at improving its members’ advocacy skills.
It is the first time the group is partnering with the Ministry to address a social issue. Moot Court Guyana and the Government teamed up for the competition to debate on the paper committal process for rape cases under the Sexual Offences Act (2010) as well as an impromptu competition for secondary students.
In the impromptu competition, Edon Corbin, a sixth former at The Bishops’ High School, emerged as the winner and used the platform to urge the policymakers to pay greater attention to domestic violence against men and the facilities and processes available to report such.
He urged that the issue of domestic violence be incorporated into the school curriculum to educate students on the issue. Corbin also asked that support centres for victims be established with particular emphasis on areas where the scourge is predominant
Meanwhile in the debate, the defence team won the finals held at the National Library in the capital.
The winning team of Sara Bovell (leader); Ulanda Williams and Lancelot Daniels argued that the paper committal process was both unconstitutional and a violation of the human rights of the accused. They claimed that the paper committal process reduces the effectiveness of the filtering process that offered fairness to the accused.
During the mock trial, the prosecution team, of Veena Ramdatt (leader); Nicklin Belgrave and Ayana Fable, argued the merits of the paper committal process, which replaced a Preliminary Inquiry in rape cases under the 2010 Act.
The paper committal process is one which seeks to have the parties make submissions in writing and the Magistrate decides whether there is adequate evidence to go to trial. This protects the alleged victim from having to testify during the Preliminary Inquiry and at the trial.
The statistics for rape trials in Guyana have been dismal over the years with reports of trials taking so long that victims raped as children lose interest in pursuing the legal battle, as adults.
The prosecution claims that the paper committal process aids speedy trials by eliminating the lengthy Preliminary Inquiries. It posited that the process was fair and just, as it not only protected the alleged victim but gave the accused 45 days to tender any evidence to support his or her case.
The teams were adjudged by Attorneys-at-Law Wanda Fortune and Theophilus Ferguson based on several criteria, including content, relevance of legal text used, strategy, ability to summarise cases and law, presentation, team work, skills, style, proper use of court etiquette and the ability to respond to questions.
In the end, the defence team was declared the winner, with its Senior Counsel, Sara Bovell, capturing the prize for Best Advocate.