Galop is concerned about a number of issues relating to the recent death of Sonia Burgess, and the treatment of the alleged perpetrator Nina Kanagasingham. It is of paramount importance that there is justice for Sonia, and for that to happen, everyone in the legal process has to be treated with dignity and respect, in order to ensure that the process is fair and the outcome just.
Unfortunately, Galop is concerned that the press reporting of the case, relating to both victim and alleged perpetrator has been transphobic, and that Nina’s treatment by the justice system so far been disrespectful and potentially breached her human rights. Such treatment can never be consistent with a fair trial.
It has emerged that both the victim and alleged perpetrator are trans
Galop works to ensure that all cases involving trans people are investigated and dealt with in an appropriate and respectful manner. We believe the criminal justice system should treat everyone equally. No trans person should have to face additional barriers to justice because of their gender identity, as either a victim or perpetrator of crime. Only by delivering a criminal justice system which respects everyone, and treats everyone with dignity, can we be sure of a fair outcome.
The treatment of the alleged perpetrator
We are deeply concerned that the judge demonstrated a lack of understanding, reportedly asking the following in court:
“This defendant is in the process of undergoing a sex change. Has it been completed?”
This level of misunderstanding of gender identity is of significant concern in ensuring that Nina receives a fair trial.
Galop is further concerned that Nina appeared in court with stubble, suggesting that she may not have been given the opportunity to shave before her appearance. If this is the case, it is of grave concern as it reduces Nina’s dignity and ability to present as the women she knows herself to be. It is the responsibility of the police to protect Nina’s dignity whilst in custody, and Galop will be writing to the police to formally raise our concerns regarding this issue.
Galop is appalled that Nina has been remanded to a men’s prison, and calls upon the prison service to re-consider this breach to Nina’s human rights. We also call upon the prison service to ensure that Nina has access to any medication she may need and that she is able to present as the women she knows herself to be. Galop will be writing to the prison service to make these points, and is seeking legal advice regarding the decision to house Nina in a men’s prison.
Ensuring justice for the victim
Galop continues to call on the police and crown prosecution service to fight for the victim’s right to dignity and a thorough and unprejudiced investigation into what happened.
Press reporting of this case relating to both women has been appalling. Reporting has been extremely sensationalist, and has concentrated on the victim and alleged perpetrator’s gender variant identities rather than on the tragic loss of life. Both victim and alleged perpetrator have been consistently mis-gendered in articles, and described as men. Galop will be formally complaining to the BBC, as well as a number of papers and the IPCC regarding the coverage of this case.