The National Police College (NPC) has begun a series of training sessions for criminal justice officials in Rwanda in a bid to harmonise their understanding and response to the pressing concern of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The workshop that started Monday at NPC in Musanze District brings together participants from Rwanda National Police (RNP), Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), prosecution and judiciary.
Close to 300 legal professionals from different criminal justice system organs will benefit from the training, which will be conducted in six phases.
Sixty-eight legal professionals constitute the first batch.
Commissioner of Police (CP) Christophe Bizimungu, the Commandant of NPC, while presiding over the start of the training, reiterated the role of "changing the mindset of legal practitioners in investigating, prosecuting and judging GBV related crimes."
"The ultimate purpose of the workshop is to improve the criminal justice system's response to sexual violence by countering and minimising the influence of rape and its myths on justice professionals," CP Bizimungu said.
The commandant noted that such training is among the responsibilities of the College.
"Our main responsibility as the College is to prevent crimes through training and raising awareness of law enforcers. We have chosen to discuss on GBV mainly to understand the extent of the problem and to change the wrong perception that people may have on it," said CP Bizimungu.
"People may have misconceptions on GBV based on our culture or people's emotions. We are trying to change that and learn to deal with GBV cases by scientific evidence to enable victims get better services, and we expect positive impact after this training," he reiterated.
He explained that the aim of training is to ensure that victims benefit from the comprehensive services and also to teach law enforcers to follow the right protocols while dealing with sexual and gender based violence cases.
The assistant investigator in Kicukiro District, Jeanne d'Arc Dusabe and one of the trainees, said that they are discussing good practices in the justice system.
"We have difficulties in handling GBV cases due to people's mentality towards it. Sometimes people do not report or delay, in case of the latter we face the challenge of evidence which in most cases is tempered with. Evidence collection and handling and linking the evidence to suspects is also still an issue," Dusabe said.
She added: "We are now discussing all these challenges to improve our knowledge in order to deliver good services for both victims and offenders and to give timely justice."
Alphonse Nshimiyimana another participant lauded RNP for the initiative to train them on GBV cases handling.
"We have to avoid emotions and culture influence while dealing with GBV cases. We will change all these behaviours and learn to deal with these cases professionally," said Nshimiyimana.
"We thank RNP for the good initiative of reminding and teaching us on such issue which is a major concern the Rwandan society is facing," Nshimiyimana added.
The workshops intend to sensitise participants about the negative influence of gender bias and rape myths on criminal justice practitioners' decision-making in rape cases.