Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) and DRC have jointly delivered 3 days training on handling SGBV crimes and Somaliland Sexual offences Bill to police officers in Boorama, Somalia. The training was held on 11th to 14th November at Oslo Hotel, Boorama, and 30 police officers including CID members, commanders and police investigators from 3 police groups in Boorama attended the event.
The trainees were trained on basic concepts concerning in handling SGBV crimes. Several key issues were addressed in the training, including:
– The types, nature, causes and contributing factors of SGBV crimes and the consequences of the same on survivors and society at large.
– The role and responsibilities of the police in dealing with SGBV survivors and investigation of SGBV crimes. As such, the police members in the training were enabled to understand their responsibilities to respect and provide full protection for the safety and security of survivors, their families and witness; to uphold the basic principles of consent and ensuring confidentiality; the importance of timely medical attention and examination, and psycho -social, legal and other necessary services. Interviewing skills for different GBV survivors was also among the issues covered.
The existing laws in Somaliland relating to SGBV crimes (i.e., the Penal and Procedure codes) were also discussed. The police officers who attended the training have understood that such existing laws have noticeable gaps and loopholes which made unsuitable for tackling SGBV crimes. The current laws were not ensuring the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of access to justice, security of person, respect for reputation and private life, and equality and non-discrimination.
This was followed by a presentation outlining the objectives and contents of the Sexual Offences Bill of Somaliland which is currently pending with the Legislature for adoption. The purpose of this presentation was to raise participants’ awareness of the Bill and its aim, which is to fill the legal gap in the laws currently applied to Sexual violence crimes in Somaliland. As such, the presentation highlighted objectives of the Bill which are as follows:
– To lay down the appropriate legal framework for the prohibition and prevention of rape and other sexual offences, in compliance with the Constitution and the relevant international human rights standards and principles of justice;
– To provide adequate protection to victims and witnesses of rape or other sexual offences;
– To provide enabling legal rules for handling and managing prosecution of sexual offences properly and in a manner compatible with constitutional rights of both the victims and perpetrators;
– To provide adequate protection to certain vulnerable groups of the society such as children and persons with disability against sexual offences;
– To set certain measures necessary to protect the rights of the injured party of a rape or other sexual offenses such as the rights to privacy, access to justice and adequate civil damages ; and
– To enable the government track and prosecute perpetrators of sexual offences.
The training also discussed the content of the Bill and details of the sexual offences covered, such as: Special procedures for reporting and investigation, with particular emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of the police and medical officers, evidence and proving sexual offences, prohibition and criminalization, and the implementation of the Bill including establishment of sexual offender’s registry.
Trainees discussed possible challenges on the ground that may hinder the implementation of the Bill when adopted. The discussion highlighted the presence of functioning justice institutions, including a police system of Women and Child Desks, Baahi Koob Services, and a recently-arrived finger print machine.
At the same time, however, trainees acknowledged that the lack of skilled and qualified investigators, and the absence of investigation equipment, kits, transportation means, adequate physical facilities for ensuring privacy of survivors, remain important issues. There remains a lack of public awareness on causes and consequences of sexual violence, as well the importance of immediate reporting and investigation. These are the key challenges to the implementation and enforcement of the Bill.