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Unfocused Investigations Affecting Justice Delivery in SGBV Cases- DPP

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Speaking to journalists, Justice Abodo noted that most SGBV cases take long in the system and the kind of investigations done by police lacks focus, which makes it very difficult for the victims to get justice.
DPP Jane Frances Abodo at the Training of JLOS members at MESTIL Hotel in Kampala.

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Unfocused police investigations are affecting the dispensation of justice in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence-SGBV cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Frances Abodo has revealed. She was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of one-day training for members of the Justice Law and Order Sector-JLOS at MESTIL Hotel on Tuesday.

JLOS brings together officers from Uganda prisons, police, prosecutors, and judges. Speaking to journalists, Justice Abodo noted that most SGBV cases take long in the system and the kind of investigations done by police lacks focus, which makes it very difficult for the victims to get justice. 

She explained that some of the SGBV cases that are reported ideally shouldn’t take more than a year in the court system like the situation is at the moment.  In order to address the problem, Abodo advised investigators to collect exhibits expeditiously and submit them to the Government Analytical Laboratory immediately.

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She also noted that health workers need to document the physical appearance of the victims especially those of rape and defilement immediately so as to get sufficient proof to secure a conviction. Although Police has always attributed the unfocused investigations to a shortage of resources, Abodo says there is a need for all those involved to pay special attention on the cases from the start.

  

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The Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija scoffed at Judicial Officers, on the quality of decisions, they make while dealing with SGBV cases. He noted that Judges don’t pay much attention to the cases since they are often given less than two months to conclude about 50 SGBV cases.

Dr Zeija noted that in cases of adjournment, some judges prefer to dismiss the cases without even listening to the issues warranting the prayers for an adjournment.  He cited a report where one judge is said to have completed 40 cases, but his final report showed that he had dismissed 25 cases when prosecutors asked for more time to bring witnesses.  

The training was aimed at enhancing the officer’s skills and knowledge to manage criminal sessions and prosecute SGBV cases. It was also meant to help skill the officers in the adjudication and sentencing of SGBV cases, management of scientific evidence, proper case management and coordination. The training came ahead of the Special session, where 700 SGBV cases will be heard in 14 selected districts across the country. 

Each Judicial Officer is expected to handle 50 cases within 45 days. The special session is scheduled to kick off on September 1, 2020 in various High Courts and Chief Magistrate’s courts in districts in Gulu, Arua, Masindi, Fort Portal, Jinja, Mbale, Iganga, Luwero, Soroti, Mubende, Apac, Moroto and Tororo. The 2019 Police Report shows that 13,613 defilement and 1,528 rape cases were reported. 

These figures, however, don’t include other categories of SGBV cases.

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