Forensic Evidence Processing in Gender-Based Violence Cases: Handbook for Criminal Justice Practitioners

Aaron Amankwaa* (Editor), Jakkie Wessels, Allan McNevin, Andrew Langley, Bruce Budowle, Dan Nana Osei Bonsu, Donna-Lee Martin, Emmanuel Nsiah Amoako, Innocent Makasa, Jeremy Watherston, Judith Amankwa Addo, Laura Heathfield, Nechama Brodie, Robert Green, Sharlene Otto, Swathi Ashok Kumar, Vanessa Lynch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

Abstract

Gender-based violence against women (GBVAW), specifically physical and sexual violence against women and girls, is a critical human rights crisis in the Southern African region, including severe cases of femicide and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). Over the past decades, efforts to prevent GBVAW and improve case outcomes have included the enactment of specific legislation, awareness campaigns, stakeholder engagements, victim support schemes, education, policing support and tougher consequences for offenders. However, research into the key challenges in the fight against GBVAW in the region has consistently identified a lack of reporting of cases, partly influenced by poor confidence in the justice system, and inadequate forensic science capacity to assist the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of offenders. Currently, only 4 out of the 16 member states of the SADC operate a national forensic DNA database, which is a critical intelligence tool in solving cold cases by identifying unknown offenders and linking multiple crimes to identify serial offenders. Other forensic intelligence systems, such as fingerprint and facial image databases and ballistics databases are less developed in the region. In 2023, the UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa commissioned the handbook on forensic evidence processing in GBVAW cases for criminal justice practitioners in the SADC region. The aim of the handbook is to serve as a resource to inform capacity building on the collection and handling of forensic evidence, management of the forensic investigation of GBVAW cases, training on the interpretation, evaluation, and communication of forensic evidence, and the development of appropriate laws and policies to establish relevant intelligence databases and facilitate international cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna, Austria
PublisherUnited Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Commissioning bodyUNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa
Number of pages152
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

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