By Tabora Bojang
Over a dozen police investigators on Monday began a two-week international level training in Bijilo, aimed at equipping them to effectively respond to cases of gender-based violence.
The training is organized by GIZ in partnership with the German Police Support Team in The Gambia and envisioned to build police capacity to conduct effective investigations, collect and store useful evidences that may be used during criminal prosecutions.
GIZ was commissioned by the German Federal Office to provide technical assistance to the Gambia Police Force as part of an EU funded project.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, GIZ country manager Dr. Marion Popp, reminded officers that their role as first responders to cases of GBV makes them crucial for the effective fight against GBV as a severe form of human rights abuse.
According to Dr. Marion, cases of GBV are particularly difficult to investigate because they occur behind closed doors and private spaces of families where in most cases perpetrators are considered victims, saying “this risk of a second victimisation by police officers, prosecutors or judges makes the training so important”.
A representative of the German Police Support Team Sven Stadtrecher, stressed that an effective police response to GBV goes beyond protecting women and girls from violence but increases trust that cases will be taken seriously with respect for the dignity of survivors.
He disclosed that a report by the UN Statistics Division has indicated a gloomy picture of low confidence in police handling of GBV cases all over the world with ‘less than 1 in 10 women’ who seek help after experiencing GBV turn to the police and only a minority of cases are formally reported, with even fewer convictions.
“We hope that through our trainings, you will help remove the barriers that women and girls face in navigating the criminal justice systems and enhance citizens’ trust in police response to GBV,” Mr Sven envisaged.
The Police Crime Management Coordinator Demba Sowe, thanked the German Government and its partners for supporting the Gambia Police Force build capacity of its officers in crucial matters in line with the Gambia’s SSR.
He called on the participants to take the training seriously saying by the end of the training the police high command expects significant improvements in their mode of handling GBV cases.
The training will be conducted by Heike Kottmann and Michael Muller trainers from a German Police Academy in Boblingen respected for training and preparing police officers for deployment to international missions.