Roles and responsibilities of prosecutors
- Legislation should include pro-prosecution polices in cases of sexual assault.
- Legislation should require prosecutor protocols that allow for prosecution of offenders in the absence of the survivor.
- Legislation should require prosecutor training in the use of physical evidence, expert witnesses and other trial strategies to strengthen cases in which a victim is unavailable to testify.
- Legislation should require prosecutors to carefully consider all factors underlying a survivor’s hesitation or decision not to testify, including cultural and religious beliefs, before forcing a survivor to testify.
- Legislation should require prosecutors to receive training on the nature and impact of sexual assault, harassment and stalking, factors that may affect a survivor’s willingness or ability to participate in a prosecution, and effective prosecution strategies and approaches that support victim safety. The lack of prosecutor training can contribute to low rates of reporting and prosecution. (See: Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect! Dossier of Claims (2010))
- Legislation should require prosecutors to consider victim impact statements in all cases of sexual assault.
- Legislation should require prosecutors to inform survivors of all aspects of the prosecution of the case, including details about specific times and dates for hearings.
- Legislation should require prosecutors to inform survivors of available support and protection mechanisms and opportunities to obtain restitution and compensation.
- Legislation should require prosecutors who drop cases of sexual assault to explain to the survivor why the case was dropped. (See section on Rights of Survivors, below.)
- Legislation should require prosecutors to provide information to survivors about civil remedies such as protective orders when prosecutors decline to prosecute.
For example, a 2009 Minnesota, USA law on victim notification states:
…c) Whenever a prosecutor notifies a victim of domestic assault, criminal sexual conduct, or harassment under this section, the prosecutor shall also inform the victim of the method and benefits of seeking an order for protection […]or a restraining order […] and that the victim may seek an order without paying a fee. §611A.0315 1(c).
- Legislation should require prosecutors to avoid delays in completing the trial of the offender.
(See: UN Handbook, 3.8.2 and 3.8.3; The Toolkit to End Violence Against Women; and Prosecutor Protocols, StopVAW, The Advocates for Human Rights.)