Government strengthens judges, others against sexual, gender-based violence
For sustainable fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), the Federal Ministry of Justice, yesterday, organised a capacity-building workshop for judges and relevant stakeholders.
Recalling that the programme was second in the series being hosted for key sector players involved in the investigation, prosecution and trial of offences revolving around SGBV, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, noted that the vexatious aggression has become a disturbing phenomenon the world over.
He said: “It is a problem occurring in every culture, community and across social groups, often manifesting in different forms. As a result, discourse on SGBV has continued to be on the front burner in various fora, as it has become a menace that can no longer be tolerated.
“This capacity-building programme is, therefore, organised in recognition of the central role that the judiciary plays as drivers of the machinery of criminal justice administration in Nigeria, as well as the need for dynamism on their part in expeditiously performing their role as envisaged under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015).
“The judiciary plays a critical role in the criminal justice response to SGBV. It is uniquely placed to ensure that relevant criminal laws on SGBV are interpreted and applied with gender sensitivity and in appropriate language having regard to the victim’s age, educational level, cultural background, physical or mental disabilities.”
Besides, he charged that it has become imperative for justice sector stakeholders to provide additional support structures in form of sensitisation, support for victims of SGBV, as well as specialised training for key sector players involved in the investigation, prosecution and trial of SGBV-related offences.
The minister continued: “The Federal Government of Nigeria has, in response, initiated far-reaching policy, institutional and legislative measures to curb the growing menace of SGBV offences in our communities.
“Firstly, on May 25, 2015, the government, through active collaboration with women groups and gender rights activists, enacted a landmark legislation, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act of 2015 (VAPP). The objectives of this law are to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices, discrimination against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders. This legislation has now been passed and adopted as state laws in 34 out of the 36 states of the federation.”
Malami further said: “Secondly, in 2020, the President directed a targeted government response to the SGBV problem, predominantly in the area of access to justice with the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation taking the lead. It is this presidential directive that resulted in other collaborative initiatives which led to the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Management Committee (IMC) on the Eradication of SGBV;
SGBV Response Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice to facilitate access to justice to victims of SGBV-related offences;
Prosecution Hub consisting of selected investigators and prosecutor from relevant MDAs to ensure a coordinated and effective investigation and prosecution of SGBV cases at the Federal level.”
Others, according to him, are: “Creation by the Inspector General of Police, of Gender Desks at all police commands and stations, to attend to cases of gender-based violence; designation by the Honourable Chief Judge of the FCT of four special courts for the trial of SGBV cases and development and signing of the Practice Direction and Guidelines on trial of sexual and gender-based violence cases and ancillary procedure (Practice Direction) under the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.”