United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in coordination with the Office for Women of the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina, conducted its Specialized Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP) from 18-31 August 2020.

More than fifty officials from different positions and functions of the Judiciary in twenty provinces of Argentina, the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the Nation were trained, including prosecutors, judges, ministers of provincial courts and authorities of specialised bodies on gender-based violence against women. It is important to note that forensic experts and specialised police personnel from the areas of criminal investigation and ballistics also participated, providing an inter-institutional approach.

The course took place virtually and was divided into six interactive meetings, in which participants were able to share their experiences and converse with UNLIREC instructors. The course addressed aspects (theoretical and technical) of criminal investigations and the way in which gender perspective – as a method of analysis – contributes to formulating conclusions free of stereotypes, based on objective scientific or technical studies are grounded in appropriate theory. Case studies highlighted the absence of a gender perspective in firearms investigations and the violation of rights this implies for victims and their families.

During the training, emphasis was placed on the use of firearms to commit different types of violence against women, that is, not only when they are used as homicide weapons, but also as instruments to threaten, intimidate and coerce. The training highlighted the importance of appropriately handling the crime scene and firearms and ammunition as physical evidence in the gendered investigation of crimes against women. Throughout the course, good practices were shared and participants were urged to strengthen coordination and cooperation between all actors involved in the different stages of the judicial investigation, with the aim of optimising their individual and collective efforts to tackle firearms-related crimes. This requires special attention to cases of gender-based violence, thus contributing to reductions in impunity levels and to strengthen the capacities of institutions in the justice and security sectors.

Finally, there was a practical group exercise via a newly-developed on-line platform, whereby participants had to apply the content observed in the classes: preservation of the crime scene, search and prioritisation of evidence supported by the gender perspective for the formulation of the preliminary hypothesis of events.

To conclude the course, the Vice President of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Dr Elena Highton de Nolasco, the authority in charge of the Office of Domestic Violence and the Office for Women, sent a message of gratitude to UNLIREC for organising the course and called for “the disarmament of violence” and ongoing training in this area to advance in the protection of women’s rights.

This activity forms part of UNLIREC’s ‘Women, Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation Programme’, supported by the Government of Canada and the European Union.