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Gambia To Establish “Special” Court To Prosecute Perpetrators Of Rape And GBV 

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Hon. Fatou Kinteh, Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Welfare

By Landing Ceesay 

Hon. Fatou Kinteh, Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Welfare, announced to journalists that her office is collaborating with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in The Gambia to establish a “Special” Court to prosecute perpetrators of rape and gender-based violence (GBV).

“We will be establishing a Special Court on Gender-Based Violence. Many times, cases are withdrawn from the police. This is because victims wait for too long before cases are pursued. To prevent that from happening further, we are now working with UNFPA and this year we are going to establish a special court. We will be starting in some of the regions and progress until we get all the regions uncovered. To make the work of the court easy, we are also working with the entire UN system and the EU to get a forensic lab. 

“So, as we are speaking, the only forensic labs we use are either in Senegal or Ghana, and it is expensive, and sometimes evidence gets lost in the process. So to prevent that from happening, we are coming up with a forensic lab with funding from the UN system and the EU. We are going to have a special court for gender-based violence, just like we have a special court for children. So that victims are not frustrated, cases can be pursued, and we can prosecute perpetrators,” Hon. Kinteh said. 

Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs Hon. Fatou Kinteh told the media that when she was working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), they used to support the police in conducting live phone-in panel discussions on gender-based violence (GBV) in the Upper River Region (URR) and other regions.

Hon. Kinteh said that as a result of these programs, the reporting of GBV has increased. She believes that this is because people are now more confident in the police and are more likely to report cases. She also said that the sensitization program will continue and that they will make sure that people are aware of what constitutes an act of GBV so that they can report it.

“When people report the cases, sometimes their family members will come and withdraw the cases. But we don’t stop at that; we make sure we meet the family members and do close sensitization. We make sure to inform them that if the case is reported, it is not going to be withdrawn.  

“Now, if any case is reported, it is not going to be withdrawn. Because we will take it as a case of government against the perpetrator. So, if the victim comes or a family member withdraws the case, we will not listen to the person. We will make sure that the case is prosecuted. Because we want to set an example for the Gambians. We are equally concerned about gender-based violence (GBV), especially in the case of rape,” he said. 

The Gender Minister made these remarks at a press briefing on the state of gender-based violence in The Gambia, hosted by the Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The briefing was based on data collected by the Gender Management Information System (GMIS) Center from January to July 2023.

The press briefing is geared towards fostering advocacy with both decision-makers and communities. Its primary objective is to secure the safety and well-being of women, girls, and other vulnerable groups. Additionally, it aims to bolster fundraising efforts for extensive programs addressing gender-based violence in the nation.

In the previous year, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, and the International Trade Center (ITC) collaborated closely with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare (MoGCSW) and the Network Against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV) to inaugurate the Gender Management Information System (GMIS) Center.

The center aims to build a solid evidence base on gender-based violence (GBV) cases in the Gambia by encouraging the reporting of GBV cases and ensuring that GBV survivor information is properly managed in accordance with GBV guiding principles.

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