UNODC developing effective police responses to violence against women and children in Southern Africa

25 November 2010 | Uncategorized

Pretoria – On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 54/134 designating 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In the years since its formation, the international day has been a critical time for Governments, international organisations and NGOs to organise activities designed to raise public awareness of violence against women as well as to seek solutions to eradicate persistent discrimination against women.

In commemorating this day, and as part of its mandate to strengthen the rule of law through more accessible, accountable and effective criminal justice systems, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is implementing a regional project aimed at developing effective law enforcement responses to violence against women in Southern Africa. This 3 year project financed by the Austrian Development Agency, is being rolled-out with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) and has been developed around the new UNODC Handbook on Effective Police Responses to Violence against Women and its Training Curriculum. The project seeks to improve capacity of law enforcement and national criminal justice systems in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as in the rest of the SADC region and will be one of the first UNODC projects to utilise the Handbook and its Training Curriculum.

Says Johan Kruger, UNODC Project Manager for regional projects on Trafficking in Persons and Violence against Women: “Although each of the SADC Member States has certain shortcomings specific to each country, there are a number of common challenges to effective policing of violence against women in the SADC region – the lack of comprehensive and specialised training being one of the most important”.

Through a recent training needs assessment conducted in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the general shortcomings identified included several critical aspects. These include: the lack of resources and structured use of specialised police units; the use of law enforcement officials in the capacity of investigators as well as mediators and counsellors in the absence of effective victim referral services; the lack of a coordinated and integrated approach between investigators, prosecutors and victim services; cultural beliefs and traditional approaches, particularly a strong patriarchal social structure; and the need for comprehensive training on effective police response to violence against women and children.

Within the framework of this regional project, UNODC, SADC and SAPRCCO, will from 29 November – 4 December 2010 be presenting a regional training workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, hosting law enforcement officials and training specialists from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as representatives from the SADC and SARPCCO Secretariat’s. The purpose of the regional training workshop is to develop a regional training module to be contextualised for each of the respective countries, to develop and train a group of master trainers to conduct training on effective law enforcement responses to violence against women in their countries and to operationalise the UNODC Handbook for Effective Police Responses to Violence against Women and its Training Curriculum in context of specific needs and requirements of the Southern African region. The regional workshop will be followed by national training workshops from January – July 2011 in each of the respective countries.

According to Kruger, UNODC and its partners has chosen the particular date for the regional workshop to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism on Violence against Women in order to highlight the need for countries to implement the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as adopted by the General Assembly on 20 December 1993: “Violence against women and children, whether physical, sexual or psychological, violates the equal enjoyment and protection of all of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is time for law enforcement officials to make a difference in order to protect those rights, but for them to do so, they need to understand this kind of violence in order to prevent and effectively react to it “.

Media enquiries and interviews

Adv. Johan Kruger
National Project Coordinator (SADC):
Trafficking in Persons & Violence against Women
UNODC Southern Africa
T: +27 12 342 2424 / C: +27 83 215 8528 / E: johan.kruger@unodc.org