ACJMC Judicial service Committee Gudu Abuja

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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE ACJMC/ JUVENILE WELFARE CENTER INTERACTIVE SESSION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF GENDER EQUALITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

  • ACJMC
  • January 17, 2023

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE ACJMC/ JUVENILE WELFARE CENTER INTERACTIVE SESSION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF GENDER EQUALITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

DATE: WEDNESDAY, 31ST AUGUST, 2022

VENUE: ACJMC SECRETARIAT, JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMITTEE, FCT HIGH COURT COMPLEX, GUDU FCT.

PREAMBLE

Generally speaking, the cornerstone of our criminal justice system ought to prioritize the safety of women and children in the society. It was noted that complaints have been brought forward on the functionality of the juvenile centres. SGBV is a human right violation and a criminality that poses a threat to the safety of women (particularly) in the society. Major focus is being made on how victims can access justice, protection of the victims from further threat and prevention of the further occurrence of SGBV. These may be achieved through: Capacity building programs that ensure the maintenance of high professional standard in handling SGBV cases, Speedy access to medical facilities particularly the forensics, swift access to medical reports in order to ensure speedy dispensation of SGBV cases, Prioritization of SGBV cases in courts to mention but a few.

AIM: The aim of the workshop was to deal with unprioritized issues that are germane to our criminal justice system, raise the required awareness on the significance of the neglected area of gender equality and social inclusion of vulnerable persons in the criminal justice system suggesting that they be included in the system, and set up feasible realistic measures to see to the improvement of the vulnerable groups in the system and that their protection is significantly improved with the need to raise the bar and step-up standards in terms of lack of dedicated or specialized youth court, basic infrastructure, inappropriate adult scheme and the diversionary mechanism for children advocacies.

The session highlighted that the category of persons considered to be vulnerable as follows:

  • Children in conflict with the law with no Juvenile Homes or Centres to accommodate their needs
  • Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
  • Persons living with disability
  • Illiterate persons who seemingly cannot afford to understand proceedings in courts and investigations.

OPENING SESSION AND PRESENTATIONS

The opening remark was delivered by the Executive secretary of the ACJMC, Mr. Sulayman Dawodu. The session also featured the notable presence of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Humanities, Ministry of Women Affairs, the Nigeria Police Force, the SGBV Unit-FMoJ, NHRC, NAPTIP, Social Development Secretariat and PRAWA.

Presentations were delivered on the following areas; Issues of Social Inclusion within the Criminal Justice System by Mr. Sulayman Dawodu, A Review of the Framework for the Disposal of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Cases in Criminal Proceedings by Mrs. Yewande Gbola-Awopetu (Federal Ministry of Justice), Prospects and Challenges involving Children in Conflict with the Law in Criminal Proceedings by Mrs. Ogechi Ogbu (PRAWA) analyzing stringent provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act and the Childs Right Act, Prospects and Challenges involving Children in Conflict with the Law in Criminal Proceedings by Mrs. K.C Umeh (Ministry of Women Affairs), and a presentation on the assessment of the Experiences and Challenges of Juvenile Welfare Centers in the FCT – NPF, to mention but a few.

OBSERVATIONS

During the session, participants observed that;

  • Some of the Divisions do not have designated JWC offices; this has resulted in the interview of children in the open station without confidentiality.
  • There is need for capacity building training of medical personnel that handle SGBV cases; first to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining a high level of professionalism and enlighten them on how to prepare forensic reports which are tendered as evidence in court.
  • There is need for the establishment of more Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARC) in order to facilitate an immediate response to reported SGBV cases.

RESOLUTIONS

It was resolved that:

  • Synergy exists amongst the SGBV Practitioners, the Judiciary, National Orientation Agency, SARC and other criminal justice stakeholders in order to ensure the effective implementation of gender equality and social inclusion programs.
  • Practice directions addressing the issue of orders/ guidelines on the strict prosecution of perpetuators, establishment of a definite family courts and forensic labs be treated with urgency
  • Dealing with SGBV Cases without family interference to protect the victims
  • Ensuring the attendance of witness through the Witness Protection and Funding Scheme
  • Establishment of a viable interpreter scheme in Police Stations and Courts
  • Develop restorative justice programs, probation services viz-a-viz he enactment of the Social Workers Bill
  • Ensuring the confidentiality of SGBV victims
  • Deployment of group counselling, ADR and Restorative Justice
  • Establishment of separate hospital and medical facilities for male and female SGBV victims
  • Provide JWC offices at the various Police Divisions across the FCT.
  • Training and retraining of key stakeholders across the criminal justice system
  • Raising the awareness and advocacy on SGBV and ensuring compliance of the judiciary
  • Provide Legal representation for SGBV victims
  • Ensure that the terminologies employed for SGBV victims are such that it does not scare them or put them in fear
  • Organisation of re-integration programs by the Women Affairs
  • Engaging with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Humanities and ensure synergy with NAPTIP on SGBV case referrals
  • Ensure adequate budgetary process and monitoring
  • The need for NAPTIP to draft an SOP to this effect

CLOSING

The vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Joshua Dada and the closing remark by Mr. Sulayman Dawodu

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