|2012 06 13 Press Release: Sexual Offences Act appeal heard in Supreme Court|
For Immediate Release: Wednesday 13 June 2012
The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) today (13 June 2012) represented the Centre for Child Law (CCL) in an amicus application before the Supreme Court of Appeal. The matter deals with the appeal of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape v Arnold Prins.
This is an appeal of a full bench decision of the Western Cape High Court judgement which declared that a number of crimes contained in the Criminal Procedure (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (‘the Act’) are not crimes as they do not contain penalty provisions.
The LRC argued that the High Court erred in reaching the above conclusion, and that the judgement should be set aside. The submissions are focused on:
First, the High Court erred in holding that it was unable to find that Parliament intended to leave to the Courts the question of appropriate punishment for the contravention of section 5 of the Act. On a proper construction of the Act, that is plainly what it means.
Second, the High Court erred in failing to give any consideration to the constitutional and international law duties on the state to create and prosecute offences of this sort, especially insofar as they pertain to children.
Third, in the alternative, even if the Supreme Court of Appeal were to uphold the approach of the High Court, it ought to exercise its powers in terms of section 172(1) (b) of the Constitution and direct that, until Parliament has cured the defect relied on by the High Court, the courts are able to exercise their general sentencing powers in respect of these offences. This is the only way to avoid a whole violation of fundamental rights, especially the rights of children.
The LRC and the CCL worked closely in the above matter, and their intervention is based on the Constitutional rights of children as victims of sexual abuse and the child’s right to safety and security.
The LRC is an independent, non-profit, public interest law clinic, which uses law as an instrument of justice to provide legal services for the vulnerable.