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义工陪上庭 小证人别怕

Monday, 13 September 2021

Lianhe Zaobao

Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

The article below is anchored with experiences from two volunteers, Madam Sarasa and Ms Celine Tay, to explain what Vulnerable Witness Support Programme (VWSP) is about i.e. a programme coordinated by Singapore Children’s Society with the State Courts and Family Justice Courts to provide adequate support to vulnerable child witnesses under the age of 18 who have to testify in criminal cases. The volunteers shared on their specific roles e.g. providing psychological support without discussing specifics on the court case and strategies they use to lift the spirits of the child witnesses amidst the long court processes such as reading, drawing or even playing hide and seek. They also shared their key takeaway from years of volunteering.

The article noted that the Society has 19 VWSP volunteers, with age ranging from 28 years to 77 years old. It also highlighted that volunteers must be able to commit 1 year with the programme, with each volunteer minimally supporting 3 to 4 cases per year depending on their schedule. It also shared how VWSP programme is voluntary i.e. the Investigation Officer (IO) and/or Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) will inform parents/caregivers about the VWSP programme and seek their consent if they would like a VSP to support their child during the trial. The article also carried statistics from the State Courts and Family Justice Courts on the number of volunteers activated under this programme over the years.

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