WINDHOEK - Although gender-based violence and violence against children is prevalent, only a fraction of these acts of violence are reported and of those cases reported to the police, many end up not being successfully prosecuted, says the Unicef country representative in Namibia.
UN Resident Coordinator and Unicef Representative Rachel Odede made the remarks during the launch of the police training manuals on gender-based violence, violence against children, trafficking in persons and pocket manuals for first responders of the police force yesterday in Windhoek.
Odede stated for a GBV, child abuse or exploitation case to reach the final stages of prosecution and result in a successful conviction, all actors in the process need specific know-how and they should work closely together.
“Actors must secure the crime scene, utilise solid investigation skills and collect forensic evidence that is admissible in court. Ranging from first respondents to police investigators to prosecutors and to forensic professionals, actors must work in synergy and have an understanding of each role in the process. The manuals are important tools for dealing with critical issues, including GBV, violence against children (VAC) and trafficking in persons (TiP),” said Odede.
She said about 20 000 copies have been printed for distribution to all police officers countrywide to ensure that they have what they need when evaluating a crime scene or working with survivors.
The manuals have been piloted and rolled out to all four regional police training colleges for use in pre- and in-service training.
Of the two, the pocket manual is divided into four different manuals covering topics of gender-based violence, child protection, trafficking in persons and children in conflict with the law.
The pocket manuals provide a short overview of the legal framework and the immediate police response to cases of sexual violence, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, trafficking in persons and children in conflict with the law. The manuals have been written especially for first respondents of the Namibian Police Force, in order to give these officers clear guidance for a quick safe and victim-centered intervention.
“We are confident that the manuals and trainings will ultimately strengthen service delivery in the criminal justice sector and promote respect for human rights and rule of law in all police interventions. This then can lead to higher conviction rates and justice for victims,” said Odede.
She stated in terms of Trafficking in Persons (TiP), a study by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and UNODC found that in Namibia, there were 11 cases of trafficking investigated and six prosecuted in 2017, and in comparison, six cases and four prosecuted in 2016.
“A majority of those trafficked in 2017 were girls under the age of 18,” Odede remarked. She added that TiP cases are confused with other type of crimes, such as GBV or VAC or worse, a victim being charged with a criminal offence such as illegal border crossing.
In addition, Inspector-General of the Namibia Police Force Sebastian Ndeitunga said, “the police is under constant public scrutiny, particularly for our actions or inaction- as far as public safety is concerned; more so regarding GBV, VAC and TiP.”
He said some members of the police force have already been trained on these training manuals. “Therefore, we are assured that they will be able to build the required capacity in this field for generation to come, because they were provided with the necessary knowledge and skills to train others.”
“I would like to reaffirm the determination of the Namibian police force, as the guardian of public safety, to combat the GBV and trafficking in person. In this regard, a continued and consistent cooperation and support by stakeholders is very essential for the police and the prosecution authorities to secure justice for the victims of GBV, VAC and TiP.