11 July 2008 - In late June, representatives from South Africa's government and civil society met in Johannesburg to bolster support for Victim Empowerment Programmes. Jointly organized by UNODC's Regional Office for Southern Africa and South Africa's Department of Social Development (DSD), the summit marked the beginning of UNODC's involvement in victim empowerment initiatives in the country. It also paved the way for South Africa's 10 year VEP anniversary to be held in Durban later this August.
The two-day summit aimed to support VEP project implementation in the country and to strengthen partnerships to assist victims of crime and violence, particularly at the community level. Specifically, it focused on juvenile justice, penal reform, restorative justice, alternatives to imprisonment, victim support, monitoring, and civilian oversight of criminal justice performance.
Co-supported by the South African Government and UNODC through an EU financial contribution, project activities will include a wide number of interventions covering training and skills transfer particularly for civil society and relevant government departments; the provision of advice; legal reform; the provision of grants to civil society; and the development of normative guides, manuals and reports on best practices and training.
The event brought together different stakeholders to promote collaboration amongst the Government, civil society and other partners such as the business community. Further, given the upcoming 10-year celebration of the country's Victim Empowerment Charter, the event also provided an opportunity to evaluate past activities, and to better determine the way forward.
In his presentation, UNODC Regional Representative, Jonathan Lucas, noted that the conference was a boost to VEP initiatives in South Africa. "I am privileged to be working in partnership with the DSD and the EU in support of Victim Empowerment; one of the key priorities of South Africa's National Crime Prevention Strategy."
DSD Acting Deputy Director-General, Ms. Conny Nxumalo, thanked UNODC for its commitment and praised its drug prevention and reduction work.
The summit enabled participants to discuss some of the vital issues and challenges raised around VEP such as the role of the business sector; shelter services and their role in providing VEP; and financing. The recommendations will be fed into the August 10-year conference.