The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj.Gen.Steven Muzeeyi Sabiiti has said there is need to worry about the ever rising cases of gender based violence across the country.
“Many of us take the statistics as just numbers but these are our people. They are out sisters, mothers, brothers and other relatives. We need to look at these worrying statistics and get timely interventions,” Muzeeyi said on Tuesday as he opened the training of Police officers on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and sexual Reproductive Health Rights at Kibuli CID Headquarters in Kampala.
Gender Based Violence offenders are punished by a number of laws in Uganda including the Penal Code Act cap 120 that provides for prosecution of major offences like rape and defilement among others.
In 2010, the Domestic Violence Act was enacted to punish perpetrators of GBV whereas other laws like the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act of 2012 are also in place over the same.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police too, admitted that the country has sufficient laws to help fight Gender Based Violence but noted that there is something lacking.
He cited witness protection as an aspect of fighting Gender Based Violence that he said is still lacking.
“Many including victims would wish to testify and give evidence about the offences but fear to be stigmatized whereas others fear for their lives. There is need to find ways of protecting witnesses,” Maj.Gen. Muzeeyi Sabiiti said.
He however noted that there is need to educate the public about the details of Gender Based Violence so as to equip them with knowledge about the same and how to fight it.
The Police CID Director, AIGP Grace Akullo asked development partners including the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) for assistance to help them carry out successful investigations that would lead to conviction of suspects involved in offences related to Gender Based Violence.
“We request that police is supported in terms of transport to facilitate investigators move but also witnesses come to courts of law to testify,”Akullo said.
The Police director explained that because of the overwhelming number of cases handled by the High Court, it was decided that Gender Based Violence cases involving minors below the age of 14 can be handled by the Chief Magistrate Courts around the county.
She however insisted that there is still a challenge of transporting witnesses to the different courts to be able to testify.
“Our cases end up being dismissed for lack of witnesses in court. Because the police don’t have their own health facilities, sometimes we fail to get money to pay private hospitals to examine victims of Gender Based Violence yet the private facilities want cash.”
About the course
The four- day course will see participants who include police officers and some of their family members from Nsambya and Kibuli police barracks will be taken through Gender Based Violence with emphasis on culture and effects of GBV.
Facilitators for the training course will be experts from Makerere University, UNFPA and staff from the GBV department of police.
The course will later be spread to 16 other districts around the country.
According to police, the course will help equip officers and their families with all the necessary knowledge about GBV and how to fight it.