OM Carib seminar zooms in on care for victims of sexual abuse

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WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao (PG) – The providing more conscientious care for victims, especially those of sexual offences, was the focus of a seminar organized by the Office of the Attorney General of Curaçao, St. Maarten, and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba OM Carib for its partners within the justice chain of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Thursday, August 26, on Curaçao.

The seminar, held at Acoya Curaçao, drew participants from police forces, the court, victim support services, and employees of the prosecution service responsible for tackling sex offences and/or victim care.

The topic was specifically chosen to zoom in on sexual offences and to place more emphasis on the position and care of victims of these offences. Criminal law fully outlines how to handle suspects and perpetrators, however, the victim needs more careful consideration, especially in sexual assault cases.

Sexual offenses are serious violations of the physical and mental integrity as well as the dignity of the victim. Sexual offenses are serious, because of the impact it has on those involved, their environment and society as a whole. This makes it of paramount importance that professionals in the field are equipped to care for the victims.

Several experts in the field of tackling sexual offence made presentations to 40 participants. “Trauma and sexual violence and victim blaming” was covered by Dr Iva Bicanic, coordinator of the National Center for Sexual Violence in the Netherlands, and “Victim treatment” by Yet van Mastrigt, Moral Expert National Police. “Interviewing minors” was covered by legal psychologist/investigative psychologist Jannie van der Sleen and well as “Assessment of statements in sex offenses”.

The topic of “Grooming” was focused on by Guillano Schoop, Prosecutor in Curaçao.
Curaçao Prime Minister and interim Minister of Justice Gilmar Pisas opened the seminar. Since 2018, the Curaçao Ministry of Justice has been working on the optimization of the approach to sexual assault cases. A pillar of this is strengthening the expertise of the personnel responsible for tackling sexual offenses. Prime Minister Pisas, in his role as Justice Minister, supports this approach.

In the context of the National Plan Curaçao to combat violence against children and domestic/relational violence, Social Development, Labor and Welfare SOAW Minister Ruthmilda Larmonie-Cecilia also contributed to the seminar as she saw it as fitting with the goal of strengthening expertise at different levels and in various aspects.

The seminar was, therefore, strongly supported by the Curaçao Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of SOAW, as well as the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands.

Closing off the day, Attorney-General OM Carib Ton Maan encouraged seminar participants to apply the knowledge gained to their work procedures. The ultimate goal of seminar is to see victims of sexual assault better cared for and to help them to emerge as survivors, for their well-being and that of the community.

The seminar organizing committee comprised the OM CARIB team and Sint Maarten Police Force KPSM Morality Team Leader Dientje John-Muller.