Lagos State Trains Police Family Support Units on investigating SGBV

Lagos State government has again engaged over forty police officers on best practices for investigating and prosecuting incidents  of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Participants at the 3 day  training session are  drawn from the State’s Family Support Units as well as other formations including Force Criminal Investigative Department CID Alagbon and Panti ( D 10).  The Executive Secretary Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, DSVA, Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi said that the whole essence is to acclimatise them with emerging trends on domestic and sexual violence and know how to relate with them when the needs arise. “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is a globally pervasive human rights violation which the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has declared zero tolerance for all forms of this menace.  Vivour-Adeniyi explained that the  police has an indispensable role to play in ensuring survivors are able to access justice, perpetrators are held accountable which is critical in serving as a deterrence.  “The truth of the matter is that cases are not won in court, they are won at investigation stage and so we need the police to conduct thorough investigation when these cases are reported to their stations.  “They must know the best practices for interviewing survivors and the intricacies involved and the investigation techniques in facing the alleged perpetrators at the scenes of the crime, connecting the suspect to crime.” she said She maintained that the State is working assiduously to ensure that going forward there are solid investigations conducted by these personnel as the state is craving for an increase in conviction and increase faith in the system. Facilitator at the training, Mrs Atinuke Odukoya of the Centre for Women’s Health and Information took the participants on the issues of socialization, culture, social norms, value system and how they impact on how the police officers within the family support units respond to issues of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. She said “We all know that things that we have behind our minds are in terms of how we have been raised or how our society has raised our expectations and attitudes with behaviours and how we are supposed to respond to issues, those impacts affect the way we respond to cases that survivors bring to the station when they come. “One of the things that we needed them to see is the fact that these people that you are responding to, they are coming with a lot of trauma. So it’s not in your place to determine because of how you feel or how you think or what you think is the way they should be dressed or the way they should talk on how they should be able to  respond to cases.” Odukoya enjoined the officers to look beyond ethnic coloration while making judgment and to see that objectivity is key and investigating the cases with all objectivity towards ensuring that justice is served “because justice is a form of prevention.” An SGBV Consultant, Mrs Juliet Olumuyiwa Rufai took the Participants on Guiding principles of SGBV Role Play and the approach to SGBV Response, Survivor -centered and Multi-Sectoral. She highlighted the approaches to look out for when handling SGBV cases. In his presentation, Director of Public Prosecutions Lagos state, Dr Babajide Martins highlighted the relevant laws in relation to their areas of investigation and put in perspective what is expected of them in terms of implementation, investigation and apprehension of offenders and preparing them to give good testimonies when they are invited in court by the directorate. He said some of the challenges are the process of getting officers to come and give evidence  in court , stressing that the training session will avail them the opportunity to know what their roles are and what is expected of them when they are coming to give evidence in court. Some of the participants appreciated the state government particularly DSVA for putting the training together as they called for more sensitization at community levels as well as reaching out to religious and traditional rulers to cascade the messages to the people.  Adejoke Ladenegan-Oginni Head, Public Affairs Unit Lagos DSVA 7/2/2024

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