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Enhancing the capacity of Prosecutors in combating and responding to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in Ethiopia

Handbook for prosecutors on responses to VAWGHawassa (Ethiopia), 13 May 2022 – 32 prosecutors from the Ministry of Justice in Ethiopia were engaged in a 3-day training on combating Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) during a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop held from 6 – 9 May 2022 in Hawassa, Sidama Region. Participants for this training comprised of bench prosecutors from the federal courts in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. The workshop was organized through the women’s affairs directorate of the Ministry of Justice and branch offices in the two chartered cities

As with many areas of Criminal Justice, combatting Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) requires a multisectoral approach in the design and implementation of targeted programmes and initiatives. In this regard, the UNODC Programme in Ethiopia collaborated with the Federal Supreme Court Child Justice Project Office, the Center for Human Rights as well as the Law School both based at the Addis Ababa University, and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in order to harness the expertise of these specialized institutions regarding various subject matter in the field of combatting VAWG.

This workshop is a follow-up to a National workshop on Criminal Justice Responses to Violence Against Women and Girls that brought together criminal justice actors from both federal and regional institutions, held in January 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the workshop, the participants had expressed the need for support around capacity building through undertaking trainings as well as provision of equipment. Building upon the the consensus reached at the forum, combating VAWG has been streamlined into UNODC’s programme activities, forming part and parcel of the technical support provided to the government of Ethiopia.

UNODC's Abraham with MoJ's Meraf opening VAWG trainingSpeaking at the opening ceremony of the event, the UNODC team leader - Mr. Abraham Ayalew, and the representative from the Ministry of Justice, Ms. Meraf Tesfayesus both noted that the capacity building training was very timely and important for improving the prosecutorial services related to VAWG in Ethiopia. The overall objective of the training was to enhance the capacity of prosecutors to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. In particular, the training aimed to improve the efficiency of investigation and prosecution services in dealing with cases of violence against women and girls as well as protecting the rights of victims in the criminal justice process. Gender-based discrimination in the criminal justice system creates significant obstacles to achieve access to justice for all. This problem disproportionately affects women, who face still face significant barriers in accessing justice, whether they are victims, witnesses, alleged offenders or prisoners.

Dr Wondemagen Tadesse from the School of Law and Governance based at Addis Ababa University did a presentation on Prosecution of VAWG in a Human Rights Framework. In his presentation, he explored the interactions of human rights and prosecution (and of VAWG), assessed the importance of compliance with human rights standards in law enforcement, and elaborated on the place of victims in the role of prosecution. The discussion also covered the benefits of the human rights framework for law enforcement, applicable standards for police and prosecution and the responsibilities of the prosecution in cases of VAWG. Ms. Anchinesh Shiferaw from the Center for Human Rights based at Addis Ababa University later presented on the “Introduction to International Standards on VAWG and the Role of the Criminal Justice System”. In her presentation, she focused on the definition and conception of VAWG, the types and magnitude of the problem, international and regional instruments on VAWG (including the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa - the Maputo Protocol), detailed overview of VAWG under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), gender based violence as a violation of human rights, domestic laws, national polices, programs and action plans on VAWG, and gaps in the relevant laws.

The Head of the Federal Supreme Court Child Justice Project Office, Mr. Leulesellasie Liben then made a presentation on the work around Violence Against Children in Ethiopia. His presentation focused on general child justice issues and most importantly on SGBV affecting children. Mr. Begashaw Eshetu from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission did a presentation on “Monitoring VAWG” in the context of the work of the Human Rights body. He highlighted the work of the commission in monitoring and reporting on cases of SGBV with particular focus on the role of prosecutors in ensuring protection of survivors and ensuring human rights in dealing with perpetrators.

UNODC's Ermiyas giving training at VAWG meetingMr. Ermiyas Kostre from UNODC later facilitated a training session on Training of Trainers, where he highlighted how to plan, organize, deliver and evaluate effective trainings. He also elaborated on the best practices in pedagogy especially pertaining to adult learning. He later  undertook an overview of the UNODC Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence Against Women and Girls – a critical document in UNODC’s work on VAWG. UNODC’s Benjamin Mirichi took participants through the UNODC Global elearning Programme where individuals can get online certification on self-paced, UNODC-developed courses based on the organization’s mandate areas. Participants were encouraged to sign up from the programme and were taken through the account creation and course enrolment process for courses relating to topics on Human Trafficking, Human Rights as well as Gender Issues. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated more online learning needs and UNODC was made aware of this critical need stemming from various institutions in the country. As a response to this call, UNODC procured various ICT equipment that would be used to develop learning centres in the various institutions, as well as support the running of day-to-day operations. The support was made possible through the Governments of Sweden and Japan.

In pursuit of narrowing the gender gap experienced globally in this and other professions within the Criminal Justice sector, nominations were undertaken to ensure a representation of at least 29 women from the group of 32 participants, translating to a 90% attendance by women. Gender equality in Ethiopia continues to be an ambitious goal that requires lots of investment from all stakeholders in society, and UNODC remains on the ground to ensure steady support the towards its attainment.

This workshop was supported by the Government of Sweden through its funding to the programme, the National Integrated Programme for Ethiopia.

VAWG meeting group photo


For more information, please contact: 

Mr. Abraham Ayalew -

National Programme Officer

UNODC Programme Office in Ethiopia