Until March 2012, UNODC supported the Government of South Africa in addressing one of the major priorities of the National Crime Prevention Strategy. Through the European Union-funded project "Support to South Africa's Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP)", launched in 2008, UNODC worked in close partnership with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and other key stakeholders to address the high rates of criminal victimization in the country, particularly with regard to women and children. DSD is continuing the VEP and support for organisations assisting victims.
The main purpose of the Victim Empowerment Programme is to facilitate the establishment and integration of interdepartmental/intersectoral programmes and policies for the support, protection and empowerment of victims of crime and violence. Building on this, the Programme's overall development objective is to contribute to building safe and peaceful communities by strengthening the human rights culture and providing more effective, multisectoral, coordinated responses to victims of crime and trauma.
In the framework of the project, the Government and civil society aim to do the following:
- To build institutional capacity within the South African Department of Social Development, at both the national and provincial levels, to lead, expand and sustain the Victim Empowerment Programme in South Africa.
- To improve coordination and cooperation between government departments and civil society organizations to harmonize services to victims of crime. With the understanding that victim empowerment is a cross-cutting theme covering many government departments at the national and provincial levels, the project aims to assist in implementing mechanisms and practices in order to strengthen coordination and cooperation among all those involved in empowering victims.
- To promote awareness of South Africa's victim empowerment policies. A critical component of the Victim Empowerment Programme is sustained advocacy among politicians and the public at large in order to generate the necessary political support and raise public awareness of the rights of victims of crime, the assistance and services available to victims and ways of accessing these services.
- To build capacity among civil society organizations to empower victims. As part of the project, UNODC will work with organizations dealing with victims of crime, trauma and violence. As established and emerging organizations play a major role in delivering services to victims, the project's contribution will ensure assistance from both a technical advisory and funding perspective.