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The Swedish government has pledged to build the capacity of female Police officers to effectively respond to sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) cases in Uganda. The Swedish envoy to Uganda, Per Lindgarde, revealed that his government would train local security forces on how to address and investigate GBV cases and retool the forensic department of Police to ably handle the cases.“We need to provide the officers with the tools and skills to conduct the necessary interviews in order to investigate GBV-related crimes. A good investigation must be rapid, orderly, critical, comprehensive and objective,’ Lindgarde said.

The envoy also pledged continued support to the justice sector in terms of capacity building.‘This will focus on the entire justice chain in terms of investigation, prosecuting and adjusting GBV cases in a gender responsive, victim-centered and trauma-informed manner,’ he noted. Lindgarde said this would not only enable survivors access justice but also end impunity.

The envoy made the remarks during the launch of the Uganda Police Force caravan to end violence against men, women and girls at Railway Grounds in Kampala yesterday.

The two-week gender-based caravan across the country is part of the 16 days of activism against GBV. During the campaign, data will also be collected on how best t handle these cases.

The first caravan will move through Kampala, Mubende, Hoima, Masindi and Gulu districts. The second will cover areas of Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Iganga, Tororo and Kamuli.

Clad in white and khaki uniforms, Police officers led by female officers, marched through Kampala city center raising awareness and advocating the end of GBV against women, girls and men.

Lindgarde said human rights and access to justice for women and girls is at the core of Sweden’s investment in Uganda.

He said Sweden recognizes the gains the Police have made in strengthening its gender responsiveness. These, he said include developing the gender policy, strategy and training female officers to better positions.

“We call upon the Police to use the standard operating procedures for management of GBV and cases of violence against children to enhance accountability of officers once they are implemented,” Lindgarde explained.

He said the caravan and border awareness creation on GBV is critical in ensuring that dialogue is held with communities with the aim of genuine engagement and accountability.

‘This activity plays a complementary role to civil society organizations, who are providing women with information on their rights and how to strengthen the linkages for integrated GBV strategies,’ Lindgarde said.

UN Women country representative Maxime Houinato pledged continued support to the Police through capacity building of investigation officers handling GBV-related offences.

“We acknowledge the commendable work of the force in investigation cases despite teu challenges of inadequate resources, both human and financial,” he said.

The Police crime report of 2018 revealed that 17,521 sex-related crimes were registered, out of which 6,454 cases were taken to court. Of these, 920 cases secured convictions, 50 cases were acquitted, 473 cases were dismissed, while 5,011 cases were still pending in court.

The report also showed that 17,682 persons were victims of sex related crimes, out of whom 15,469 were female juveniles, 277 male juveniles, 1,849 female adults and 87 male audits.

Police commitment

The Police director of research, planning and development, Edward Ochom, said the Force is committed to co-operating with civilian agencies protecting life and property, detecting and preventing crime.

“The Police will continue to intensify their efforts in the fight against GBV and violence against women and girls,” Ochom said.

 

Article by Andrew Ssenyonga / published in the New Vision, November 27 2019 

 

Published in Latest News
Wednesday, 29 May 2019 12:30

SGBV Pilot Project Report Card

 

They say justice delayed is justice denied and this was being experienced by victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). To address the issue, the Government through the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) with the support of the UNFPA recently carried out special court sessions with the objective of fast-tracking the disposal of SGBV cases and improving the experience of the victims in the justice system in the pilot high courts of Mbale, Soroti, Moroto, Gulu, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Mukono, Criminal Division Kampala and Masaka and Chief Magistrate courts of Nabweru, Sironko, Kapchorwa, Lira and Iganga.  

The sessions were targeted at improving the experience of survivors/victims of SGBV as they interface with the criminal justice system through emphasis on victim-centred and gender-sensitive approach; promotion of a coordinated and integrated approach among the role-players in the chain of justice; and strengthening of the investigation, prosecution and adjudication functions in the management of sexual offences.

As a landmark success, the special pilot session saw the disposal of 50 SGBV cases per court in one month from November 12 to December 15, 2018.  Overall, the objective of the pilot was met with unprecedented success leading to the disposal of over 788 cases against the target of 650 cases.

 

DOWNLOAD SGBV REPORT CARD

 

Editor's note: The SGBV Pilot project report card was published in the May 23- June 24 2019 Edition of The Public Lens Newspaper (p. 6-7).

Published in Latest News

 

GBV became the major obstacle to poverty reduction, and the drive to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS, according to the Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda William Carlos.When the government of Ireland embarked on providing support towards ending Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Busoga region in 2011, 70% of the women were found to have been victims.

 According to the 2006 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, the women had experienced either physical or sexual violence from the age of 15. Half of the women experienced this violence from their husband or intimate partner within the home.However, only 6% of the women reported their cases to formal institutions like the police, according to the 2006 survey.

GBV became the major obstacle to poverty reduction, and the drive to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS, according to the Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda William Carlos.It equally blocked opportunities to access education and failed efforts to achieve full equality between men and women plus boys and girls. The cost of GBV was suffered by women, children, families, and communities.Now eight years down the road, Busoga sub-region has registered significant progress and reduced cases of  GBV from 74% (in 2006) to 48% (in 2016).

 “It all stemmed from a change in attitude and practices that promoted GBV leading to more women breaking their silence and seeking help whenever GBV occurred,” Ambassador Carlos who hosted a reception at his residence in Kampala to celebrate the gains on ending GBV said.

A total of 192 community activists were trained and supported to mobilize communities to end GBV. Mr. Carlos said the new Ireland policy for international development is focused on gender equality and addressing GBV.

“We all know that development cannot be achieved where there is a high prevalence of GBV in all its forms whether it is in the home, in communities or the workplace, whether it is sexual, physical or emotional,” he said.

 

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Published: April 27, 2019

Published in Latest News

 

The current chain of criminal justice system shows how sex related offenses are the mostly committed cases with defilement being the most committed sexual crime.

This means that if the concerned investigation and prosecuting government agencies don’t stand to this cause, the girl child is at a very high risk being defiled and dropping out school and worse contract the deadly HIV/Aids virus.

For starters sexual violence is any act which violates the autonomy and bodily integrity of women and children under the international criminal law including but not limited to; rape, sexual assault, grievous bodily harm, mutilation of female reproductive organs.

Talking statistics, the 2015 prison statistics showed that there were 4023 prisoners on remand and 2803 were convicts of sexual violence related cases. Further, the 2015 performance statistics of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions also showed that the total number of defilement cases (one example of sexual violence against girls) handled that year was 26,900 with 8,176 of these being newly registered cases.

Statistics also show that 7 out of every 10 women in Uganda have at one time gone through sexual violence, which is an alarming statistic.

The police annual report findings of 2014 also indicate that there is a rising trend of gender based sexual violence.

The report findings indicate that defilement continued to lead in sex related crimes in 2014 as a total of 12,077 cases were reported and investigated compared to 9,598 cases in 2013, thus giving an increase of 25.8 %.

Out of the reported defilement cases about half of them (5,015) were taken to court, out of which 432 cases secured convictions, 42 cases were acquitted, 290 cases were dismissed and 4,251 cases were still pending in court.

Turning to rape, the same report showed that several women continue being raped with 1,099 cases being reported in 2014 compared to 1,042 in 2013 hence an increase by 5.4%

East Kyoga region registered the highest number with 166 cases according to the report that was followed by Greater Masaka (79 cases), Rwizi & Aswa registered 67 cases each, Kampala Metropolitan Police North as well as Rwenzori registered 56 cases each, KMP East registered 55 cases and KMP South with 54 cases among others.

 

Steps taken by JLOS institutions to salvage this situation

Despite the above alarming statistics, all is not lost as several institutions under the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) are making big strides aimed at changing the aforementioned statistics.

Further, Uganda has a strong legislative and policy framework that supports elimination of gender based violence.

Some of these pieces of legislation include; the Domestic Violence Act 2010 and the Domestic Violence Regulations 2011, the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2010 and its Regulations 2011, the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009, and the Penal Code Act, Cap 120.

 

The Judiciary

Mr Andrew Khaukha, the technical advisor of the Judiciary explains that at the moment, the Judiciary is in partnership with donors like Unicef that has resulted into the launch of ‘audio-visual link’ technology aimed at giving evidence by witnesses who are not physically in court.

With the launch of the audio-visual link technology, Mr Khaukha is optimistic that victims will eventually get justice as they will now freely testify against their perpetrators without being intimidated. 

“With the introduction of the audio- visual link system, the victims of sexual violence will be sitting in totally separate rooms from the main courtrooms and give evidence against their perpetrators without being intimidated”. Mr Khaukha explains.

“This kind of sitting arrangement is intended to give them (victims) confidence to give their evidence against their tormentors without any fear...” The technical advisor adds Plea bargaining program whereby a suspect enters into negotiations with the prosecution to accept their offense in exchange of a lighter sentence or lesser charges, has been another strategy that the Judiciary is using to fast track the hearing of cases that are sexual in nature, says Mr Khaukha.

Under this program, Mr Khaukha says that the victim’s voice is heard in the victim impact statement whereby some of them ask for compensation in form of damages and the perpetrator is able to make good of what went wrong.

He gave an example of the criminal session at the time that saw Justice Wilson Musene agree to the proposal by the victims to have their perpetrators compensate them in monetary terms that they used to treat themselves when they were sexually attacked.

According to technical advisor, this is intended to give the victim/s a voice emotionally, financially, physically and that sometimes, the voice of the community is also heard.

 

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

Regarding the steps that the DPP is employing to curb the sexual related offense, Ms Kyomuhangi explains that the Directorate in order to get conversant with children’s affairs, they have continuously organized trainings for the prosecutors to acclimatize themselves with child friendly skills that will help them when they come into contact with them.

She adds that one of the strategies that the Directorate has come up with to ease the handling of sexual related cases is a strategy called the ‘prosecutor-guided investigations’.

In explaining this strategy, Ms Komuhangi says it involves the prosecutors working closely with the police investigating the cases so that no vital evidence is left out, a move that is aimed at securing convictions against perpetrators of sexual violence.

She laments that as prosecutors, they have lost quite a number of cases due to poor and shoddy investigations done by the police and this strategy is aimed at curbing such.

The other strategy that the office of the DPP has employed is the "witness-centered" approach strategy in which a sexual violence victim has a choice to testify against their tormentors either in open courtroom so as to shame them or testify against them in a separate room, different from the suspect.

She suggests that it’s necessary as prosecutors to meet the victims of sexual violence to create a rapport with them before their case can be heard so that they can freely express themselves and narrate to court what exactly happened to them.

 

Ministry of Gender 

Ms Maggie Kyomukama, an official at the ministry says that interventions have been put in place to address challenges that come alongside gender based sexual violence cases but in specific, sexual related cases. 

She says there is a light at the end of the tunnel on grounds that a number of mechanisms have been put in place like forming a forum to strengthen the coordination of gender based violence and response mechanisms through a multi sectoral approach.

Further, Ms Kyomukama reveals that the ministry has established a child Help-Line which is toll free (116) that the children can call and report violence and related issues committed against them and can be helped.

She also states that the ministry has in collaboration with district local governments and CSO partners, supported and established seven gender based violence advisory centers and shelters in the districts of Gulu, Kamuli, Masaka, Lira, Namutumba and Moroto.

 

By Anthony Wesaka / Posted: January 18, 2019  (This article was originally published in the JLOS SIP III Magazine Edition)

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