The police play a significant role in enhancing access to justice (A2J) for victims/survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). The police are often the first point of contact for victims in the criminal justice system. The police’s attitude towards the victims at the initial contact can have an impact on whether the victim reports the case from the first place, exercise one’s rights under the criminal justice system, and/or seek other assistance from relevant institutions. A gender-sensitive and victim-oriented approach in the police investigation process can contribute to enhancing A2J for victims. It can also help empower victims throughout the entire criminal justice process.
The study mission with Senegal which took place from 30 October to 2 November 2018 in Korea was centered around the following topics: i) gender-sensitive and victim-oriented approaches in police GBV investigation; ii) institutionalization of police training and capacity building on GBV; and iii) coordination with other stakeholders, including CSOs, to provide holistic and effective support to GBV victims.
The mission took place as part of the Development Solutions Partnership (DSP) with Senegal on addressing GBV. DSP is USPC’s programmatic approach to connect Korea with the wider UNDP network and enhance the Korea-UNDP partnership on strategic development issues globally.
Multiple stakeholders from Senegal and Korea in the police and gender sectors participated in the study mission discussions. Participants from Senegal included policy-makers and practitioners from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Women, Family and Children, local police agencies from Rufisque, Guinaw Rails, Thiaroye, Jaxaay, Grand Dakar, and Senegalese Association of Jurists (Association des Juristes Sénégalaises). Participants from Korea included policy-makers and practitioners from the Korean National Police Agency, Police University, Korea’s integrated service center for GBV victims (Sunflower Centre), and Korea Women’s Hotilne.
Key takeaways of the discussions are as follows:
A victim-oriented approach in police investigation begins with the understanding of the specific needs of the GBV victims. Regular training on the complexities of GBV is essential for police to understand and respond to the needs of the victims. Detailed guidelines for police officers in each phase of investigation are crucial to standardize the police’s response and prevent any secondary victimization.
Individual police inspectors’ efforts alone are not sufficient to protect victims’ rights. All members of the police sector, including inspectors, investigation team leaders, and senior officials, need to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the protection of victims’ rights.
Introduction of a police division with monitoring functions on GBV cases can help strengthen police accountability and ensure that all investigations are conducted respecting the rights of the victims.
Raising public awareness of victims’ rights and creating a mechanism to channel the voice of victims can help increase the responsiveness and accountability of the police in GBV investigation. CSOs play a crucial role in this area.