Fungai Lupande Senior Court Reporter
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) yesterday launched a revised protocol on multi-sectoral management of sexual abuse and violence, a document which will regulate how different stakeholders, including the police, will deal with sexual abuse and gender-based violence.
The document, which is a modification of the 2012 protocol, is a reaction to new trends and sophisticated crimes like cyber crime which are a threat, especially to women and children.
The protocol implores stakeholders to improve pre-trial and post-trial support services with special attention to people with disabilities.
Speaking at the launch in Harare, JSC secretary Mr Walter Chikwana said the 2012 protocol scarcely provided for procedures of dealing with survivors with disabilities.
“The revised protocol acknowledges the marginalisation of people with disabilities and their exclusion from the majority of interventions which seek to eliminate and prevent sexual abuse,” he said.
“This vulnerable group often fails to access the basic of services such as health and education, let alone justice. The incorporation of the rights of people with disabilities into the Constitution and the ratification of the right of people with disabilities heightens our resolve to include interventions for them.”
Mr Chikwana said this year alone, enough funding was extended to the courts for payment of witness expenses, monitoring and evaluation and stakeholder capacitation to the production of the protocol.
The commission is worried that 60 percent of the budget went towards production of the protocol and stakeholder capacitation.
“I implore all stakeholders to prioritise core mandate aspects and allocate more resources to payment of witness expenses for survivors and their escorts to court, renovation of victim friendly units and repair of VFU equipment like recording machines, television monitors,” said Mr Chikwana.
He said abuse of technology was promoting sexual abuse and violence, especially against children. Cyber crimes prompted stakeholders to include online safety in the protocol.
The JSC was supported by the European Union, UNFPA, SIDA, UNICEF and Irish Aid.
After the launch, the JSC will conduct training to various stakeholders to conscientise people involved in victim friendly systems on the contents of the protocol and how to implement it.