Support persons/ intermediaries training
Section 2 of the Sexual Offences Act defines an ‘intermediary’ to mean “a person authorized by a court, on account of his or her expertise or experience, to give evidence on behalf of a vulnerable witness and may include a parent, relative, psychologist, counselor, guardian, children’s officer or social worker.” Intermediaries assist the persons with intellectual disabilities to participate in an optimal manner in the judicial process and maximize the ability of individuals to present their version of events, without directing or impacting on the content of that version.
An Intermediary helps dismantle obstacles in language and communication as well as in the physical and social setting of the justice system.
The following principles that should guarantee the integrity of the process in which an intermediary is involved:
- Neutrality: The intermediary should be a neutral party, with no connection to the case except for ensuring the right of a person with intellectual disability to full and fair participation in the justice system.
- Avoid leading the person: The intermediary should use accommodations which have the least effect of leading the person with intellectual disability but still answer the person’s needs and ensure the person understands the proceedings and is being understood by others.
- Avoid contaminating an investigation: The intermediary will ensure that none of the interventions will cause contamination of the investigation. This includes avoiding talking about the case with the person with intellectual disability for whom accommodations are being provided except in the process of providing accommodations, and refraining from changing or correcting what the person is saying as part of the investigation or testimony.
- Transparency: Every intervention by the intermediary will take place in the presence of or with the approval of the appropriate official of the judicial system connected to the case, such as a police investigator, staff person from the prosecution or the defense, or the court.