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UK ministers ‘deeply ashamed’ of low rape conviction rates

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

UK government ministers have said they feel “deeply ashamed” of low rape conviction rates in England and Wales, in the wake of a report on the crime, presented to the parliament by the Ministry of Justice,  which shows thousands of victims being denied justice because of failings by police and prosecutors.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland apologized to victims, blaming the budget cuts for the low record of convictions in the recent years.

The review was met with mixed responses, including from a rape charity saying the report failed to identify any big commitments that would radically improve the victims' experience.

Labor party said the government had “failed victims of rape on every front” and its recommendations were not satisfying enough.

Buckland was also at pains to admit that there was “a failure to deal with complaints made by many thousands of victims” at all stages of the criminal justice process.

“The first thing I think I need to say is, sorry - it's not good enough”, he added.

In a foreword to the review, Buckland, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Attorney General Michael Ellis, said, “The vast majority of victims do not see the crime against them charged and one in two victims withdraw from rape investigations.”They added they are “deeply ashamed” of the trends in which "victims of rape are being failed”.

Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse depicted the plummeting rape convictions as “obviously a shocker” and “a source of deep regret and shame” as he apologized for the significant drop in prosecutions.

Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird hit back at the apologies by the governmental figures, saying that “underwhelming rape apologies won’t cut any ice with the victims”.

Katherine Araniello, one of the rape victims in the UK, told of her bitter experience that her rape case was dropped "practically on the eve of the trial" by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

She said that it was actually her “character” being judged by the CPS, not that of the alleged perpetrator, adding that her treatment by the CPS "really stung, and it still stings to this day".

According to the governmental report, there are about 128,000 victims of rape and attempted rape annually, but less than 20% of them report the crime to the police and only 1.6% of the reported ones result in someone being charged.

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