On 3 and 4 August 2022, United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the Peruvian National Police (DIRCRI-PNP), held the first in-person edition of its Specialised Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP).
The course is aimed at sensitising participants on the importance of gender mainstreaming in crimes committed with firearms and strengthen their relevant technical knowledge about scientific methods of criminal investigations, as well as inter-institutional cooperation in these areas.
During the course, General Luis Miguel Gamarra Chavarry, Director of DIRCRI-PNP stressed the importance of developing gender-sensitive criminal investigation skills to solve crimes against women: “We consider it [this training] important because it allows us to examine the crime scene free from stereotypes, free from thoughts opposed to women, and to do an adequate job.” He highlighted the support of UNLIREC in capacity building to provide a better service to society: “This benefits the public because we are able to shed light on these crimes rather than the investigation being left in suspense; instead it allows us to identify the responsibility of individuals and supports the judiciary and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.”
Forty-one investigators and experts from different departments of the DIRCRI participated, including representatives from Ballistics and Forensic Explosives, Criminal Investigation, Criminalistic Inspections, Human Trafficking Investigation Division, Forensic Computer Graphic, among others.
What is FIGP?
The Specialised Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP) addresses both theoretical and technical aspects in criminal investigations and how gender mainstreaming, as a method of analysis, contributes to drawing conclusions free of stereotypes, based on technical and scientific research.
This was put into practice with an analysis of different cases to reflect how the absence of a gender perspective leads to the violation of rights of the victims and their families.
During the training, it was highlighted that firearms are used to commit different types of violence against women, so not only as a murder weapon, but also as an instrument to threaten, intimidate and coerce.
The importance of the correct handling of the crime scene and of firearms and ammunition as physical evidence, the need for a gender-sensitive investigation of crimes was also emphasised. Recommendations were shared and participants were urged to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between all actors involved in the different stages of the judicial investigation.
On 14 July, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) organized a virtual regional forum for Latin American countries which focused on measuring violence against women and the involvement and impact of firearms. During the forum, countries presented different initiatives and policies which assist with measuring the frequency and effects of firearms involved in violence against women.
The Women’s Office of the Supreme Court Justice of Argentina presented its methodology for documenting and analysing femicides which have been committed with firearms, while the General Directorate of Statistics and Censuses (DIGESTYC) of El Salvador highlighted the Gender Statistics Observatory. The Intersecta Organisation for Equality shared findings from a recent study on gender-based violence and firearms in Mexico, emphasizing the importance of complementary information sources alongside administrative reports, to better understand the actual magnitude of armed violence against women.
Similarly, the Centre of Excellence for Government Statistical Information, Public Security, Victimisation and Justice (UNODC-INEGI) presented a statistical framework for the measurability of femicides, while the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) focused its intervention on advances and challenges in measuring femicide rates in Latin America.
The event showcased the negative impacts of firearms when involved in different acts of violence against women and existing challenges on determining and counting femicides. Comprehensive data collection is vital for building an evidence base which should inform policy making in order to prevent and eliminate such violence.
Participants at the event included representatives working in arms control, security, the prevention of violence against women, gender, justice, statistics, and other public sectors and drew participation from Argentina, Columbia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama as well as representatives from the United Nations, regional organisations, and civil society.
42 forensic professionals, officers from the police forces and judiciary members were trained in criminal investigation with a gender perspective.
From 27 June to 6 July 2022, the United Nations Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, held virtually the Specialized Course on Firearms Investigation from a Gender Perspective (FIGP). Its objective was to strengthen the knowledge and technical skills of participants on criminal investigation by implementing a gender perspective.
Representatives from the Police Service, the Forensic Science Center, the Judiciary, the Countertrafficking Unit and the Customs Division of Trinidad and Tobago participated.
Particularly, this activity sought to promote the inclusion of gender perspectives in criminal investigations as a complementary method of analysis, to contribute to the formulation of conclusions free of gender stereotypes, to identify and process evidence of violence based on gender, and to guarantee human rights of female victims.
Given that the presence of firearms in circles of violence against women not only imply a potential murder weapon, but also an instrument of threat, intimidation and coercion, the course raised awareness of the importance to strengthen the cooperation of all actors involved in judicial investigations to optimize individual and collective efforts to deal with crimes involving firearms, with special attention to cases of gender-based violence and consequently to reduce impunity rates of those crimes.
The tools were presented in a webinar organized by UNLIREC and fund by the European Union.
On 22 June 2022, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) hosted the webinar “The nexus between violence against women and small arms”, whose main objective was to highlight the necessity of firearms control in efforts which seek to prevent and eliminate violence against women. The activity brought together 56 participants from different sectors of various Caribbean Governments, civil society organisations and UN agencies as well as other international and regional organisations.
During the webinar, UNLIREC presented its “Normative study: making the link between norms on violence against women and small arms control and regulation norms: Analysis of CARICOM States”, as well as the recommendations therein on the prevention of violence against women through arms control in Latin America and the Caribbean, among them the importance of ensuring that the suitability of applicants for firearms licenses should not be based on criminal records only but also on a profile risk of the candidate, as well as the need to suspend and revoke firearms licenses in cases of gender-based violence.
The Centre of Excellence for Statistics on Crime and Criminal Justice in Asia and Pacific (CoE) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented on the UNODC/UN Women Conceptual Framework for Measuring Femicide and the CARICOM Secretariat presented on the Caribbean Experiences with Collecting Data on Violence Against Women and Girls prevalence surveys conducted in the region.
The webinar promoted the exchange of experiences and international dialogue, with presentations from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) which highlighted their responses to domestic violence and current measures which are in place to manage arms control policies in the context of violence against women.
Small arms control and violence against women
Firearms control is essential to prevent and eliminate violence against women. During the webinar, the challenges in the identification and measurement of femicides were emphasized, particularly in the Caribbean region, where a clear legal definition has not yet been integrated into the criminal code. The importance of measuring the collecting data on the use of firearms in cases of psychological, physical and sexual violence against women was also highlighted.
Twenty-six officials from the Prosecutors’ Office in six provinces of Costa Rica participated in the “Specialized Course for Prosecutors on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (CEFAF)” organized by UNLIREC.
On 7, 14, 21, 28 June and 5 July 2022, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in coordination with the Judicial Branch of Costa Rica, conducted for the first time the ‘Specialized Course for Prosecutors on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP)’.
The course aimed to sensitize judicial authorities on the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into the design of legal strategies and the construction of case theories in the investigations of crimes committed against women, in which firearms are present.
The FIGP course was conducted virtually and included the participation of authorities from the Prosecutors’ Office, who shared their experiences and good practices, and took part in exercises in which they put the acquired knowledge into practice. During the course, participants highlighted the usefulness of the “check list” tool for the analysis of the factual, normative and evidentiary elements in the construction of case theory.
This course is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goals 5 and 16, which aim to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls and reduce the illicit flow of arms.