Haki Mkononi Project Holds Workshop To Strengthen the Knowledge of Police and Magistrate Court Judges on Violence Against Women (VAW)
The Haki project in Nigeria is aimed at operationalizing the provisions of the two adopted model laws (VAPP & GEO Bills). The activities undertaken within the period under review are aimed at capacity building to update and strengthen the knowledge of Police and Magistrate Court Judges on Violence against Women (VAW). The objective of the workshop was to improve knowledge base and capacity of Response Institutions which include the Police & Magistrates to Operationalize the Provisions of Model Laws (VAPP & GEO Bills) in Kaduna and Plateau States.
In the month of January 2017, the Haki Mkononi Project carried out one activity in Kaduna and Plateau States:
- Knowledge Update Session to Strengthen the Violence Against Women (VAW) Knowledge Base and Capacity of Response Institutions (Police & Magistrates) to Operationalize the Provisions of Model Laws – Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEO) Bill in Kaduna and Plateau States.
- The two-day workshop took place on 17th – 18th and 24th – 25th January 2017 in Kaduna and Plateau States respectively.
- The workshop adopted a participatory approach methodology of an interactive learning process that builds on the field experiences of two major response institutions in accountability for VAW and gender inequality.
- Objectives: The specific objectives of the training workshop were:
- To ensure that all response institutions in Kaduna and Plateau States with the responsibility of enforcing the laws to protect all citizens from Gender-Based Violence (GBV) are sensitized and repositioned for efficiency and effectiveness.
- To ensure that human rights are protected and the provision of redress in cases of violence for all citizens is followed without discrimination in Kaduna and Plateau States.
- To refocus understanding of response institutions in Kaduna and Plateau States on GBV issues in the light of Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEO) and Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bills.
- Letters of Invitation for participation in the workshop were sent to the State Commissioner of Police and Chief Registrar of the State High Court for selection of participants.
- Engagement of Trainers from LACVAW Partners within each State.
- Articulation of terms of reference for content development and delivery of trainings.
- Identification, engagement of Rapporteurs and other technical support required (documentation etc.)
- Internal and field planning of logistics and procurement of training materials.
- Sixteen (16)Magistrate Judges trained
- Thirteen (13) Police Personnel trained
- Ten (10) LACVAW Partners trained
- Twenty-nine (29) sensitized Magistrate Judges and Police Personnel with increased knowledge and skills for effective standard of response in line with cases of VAW and the provisions of model laws (VAPP & GEO Bills) in the States
- High potential for enhanced roles and responsibilities of Magistrate Court Judges and Police.
- Thirty – nine (39) more voices advocating for passage of protective legislations and using them to defend abused women and girls.
- Increased potential for uptake of the two model laws when passed in the two project States.
On the second day of the workshop in Jos, Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Titus Alams, Former Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly was available at the venue due to an invitation from WRAPA to sign the Forward Page of the Simplified copy of the Plateau State GEO Law. While there, he gave a goodwill message (He was the Speaker when the GEO Bill was passed into Law)to the participants present
In his message, he applauded the organizers and participants of the training for their contributions towards the implementation of the GEO Law. He maintained that the GEO Bill really gave them some tough moments because some individuals felt that the Bill, when passed into Law, would put men in disadvantaged position but those worries were clarified. He also pointed out that another challenge they encountered was that the State was on industrial strike which crippled a lot of official activities. He admitted that some individuals, like his Deputy Speaker (a woman) and Hon. Olivia Dazian – Former Commissioner for MWASD – played key roles in making the then Executive Governor to sign the GEO Bill into Law.
Secondly, he applauded the participants for their sacrifices and commitments to eliminating GBV and posited that posterity would remember them for good. In conclusion, he stated that very few Houses of Assemblies in Nigeria have passed the Bill into Law but was optimistic that other States will key into it very soon. He promised to inform his colleagues of the collective efforts and commitments of the participants.
In response to his goodwill message, Hajia Umma Rimi, the Haki Project Coordinator appreciated Rt. Hon. Titus Alams for his immense contribution and support for the successful passage of the GEO Bill into Law. She wished him success in his endeavors.
Similarly, she eulogized the Late Paramount Ruler of Bokkos , Saf Ron Lazarus Agai ,for passing a decree that gives women opportunity to own landed property in Bokkos Local Government Area. Unfortunately, on July 18th 2016, he was murdered before the decree was documented and gazetted.
- Next Steps;
- After comprehensive deliberations on the aims and objectives of the meeting which highlights the roles and responsibilities of the two stakeholders, Police and Magistrates. The following recommendations were put forward:
- The Nigeria Police and the Judiciary should collaborate for synergy in the area of sharing vital information within the agencies;
- NGOs should sensitize the general public on the rudiments of every case. (i.e. the evidences, witnesses) at a time of rape, take the accused person and the victims to the hospital for a test as that will be more than enough evidence to convict the offenders.
- There should be a body that brings all NGOs in the state and ensure regular coordination meetings.
- There should be continuous advocacy on VAPP and GEO Bills to the Legislative Arm of Government for high level buy-in.
- All relevant stakeholders should fast track the passing of VAPP and GEO Bills into law
- There should be proper sensitization/training on Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill to relevant stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, CSOs, Faith-based Organization, Traditional Institutions and state actors).
- The Police and the Judiciary should be proactive in handling issues relating to Gender Based Violence.
- The duration of the training should be increased to give ample time for proper understanding of the Bills.
- Government policies and programmes should be gender sensitive;
- Government should enact laws to outlaw cultural laws that are harmful to female gender e.g. inheritance of land and properties, female genital mutilation etc.
- Building synergy among stakeholders that enforce laws is capable of improving networking which can result to effectiveness and efficiency in reducing all forms of GBV.
- It is strongly recommended that Area Courts should be equally empowered to implement the Gender and Equal Opportunities Law in Plateau State for effectiveness. This would help to close some gaps in implementation pathway.
- A Gender and Equal Opportunities Commission should be established in Plateau State to enhance full implementation of the GEO Law.
- As proposed by the participants, there is need to advocate for the amendment of the section 55 of Penal Code which gives precedence to violence against women.