Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Botswana to have special GBV courts

Amidst escalating cases and unsatisfactory response measures geared towards Gender-Based Violence, Botswana will soon introduce special courts dedicated to address such and related offences in December.

Chief Justice Terence Rannowane this week issued a directive titled: Directions on Gender Based Violence and Related Cases (Protection of Women, Children and other Vulnerable Groups) which aims to address the escalating cases of Gender-Based Violence Cases by creating Special Courts dedicated to GBV cases in all Chief Magistrate Stations.

In the statement Chief Justice Rannowane said: “It has been observed that cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) (encompassing intimate partner violence in the form of physical/sexual assault, sexual abuse of minor children and embeciles), has increased at an alarming rate since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant extreme social distancing measure put in place to deal with the grave situation posed by this virus.”

The introduction of specialied courts for Gender-Based Violence will be a welcome development in the country as access to justice empowers citizens, especially the poor and marginalised. It will also help them to exercise their rights, to be heard and to challenge unfair practices, and hold those in power accountable.

“In order to address this disturbing situation, the following response measures are hereby instituted; Special Courts dedicated to GBV cases are hereby set up in all Chief Magistrate Stations. All GBV cases shall be treated as urgent applications and be given expedited management, set down and disposal. Such cases shall be prioritised and removed from the normal track of other cases upon registration. The Practice Directive takes effect from 1st December 2020,” Rannowane said.

Meanwhile law in Botswana is also expected to be amended so that it caters to challenges brought about by Gender Based Violence. Botswana Police Service Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Dynah Marathe revealed last week that the law enforcement organisation had already began an assessment of law enforcement response to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in order to strengthen their capacities in the workplace to fight GBV since they are the first respondents. The Police service furthermore plans on workshopping post commanders on GBV law enforcement guidelines and stakeholder engagement.

Furthermore, the Botswana Police Service has begun establishment of Child-Friendly Interview Centres across the country with one of them underway in Gaborone.

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