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Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Section 24: Special measures: amendments to the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1999

Section 24 amends the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 to ensure that victims of offences under sections 1 and 2, as well as any victims of the previous human trafficking and slavery offences (where those cases may still be, or may be yet to come before the courts) would be automatically eligible for special measures when giving evidence in court.

Subsection (1) amends Article 3 of the 1999 Order and defines that “a slavery or human trafficking offence” for the purposes of the 1999 Order includes both the new offences introduced under sections 1 and 2 of this Act as well as previous offences of human trafficking and of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.

Subsection (2) amends Article 5(4) (witnesses eligible for assistance on grounds of fear or distress about testifying) of the 1999 Order to ensure that the complainant of a slavery or human trafficking offence is eligible for assistance in relation to those proceedings, unless they have informed the court that they do not wish to be eligible for such assistance.

Subsection (3) amends Article13(4)(a) of the 1999 Order (evidence given in private)  to ensure that where proceedings relate to a slavery or human trafficking offence a special measures direction may provide for the exclusion of persons from court when the witness is giving evidence.

Subsection (4) amends Article 21 of the 1999 Order (interpretation etc. of Part 2) to ensure that the complainant in respect of a slavery or human trafficking offence, will be presumed to be under the age of 18 if their age is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they are under the age of 18.

Subsection (5) amends Article 22 of the 1999 Order (complainants in proceedings for sexual offences) to ensure that an individual who is charged with a slavery or human trafficking offence may not cross-examine the complainant in person, either in connection with that offence or with any other offence (of whatever nature) with which that person is charged in the proceedings.

Subsection (6) amends Article 23 of the 1999 Order (child complainants and other child witnesses) to add slavery or human trafficking offences to the list of offences to which that article applies.  Subsection (7) makes supplementary provision.

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