United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in coordination with the Office of Cooperation and International Relations and the Technical Secretariat on Gender of the Judicial Branch of Costa Rica, conducted its Specialised Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP) from 25 August to 4 September, 2020.

More than thirty officials from the Judicial Branch were trained, including prosecutors from the Public Ministry, investigators from the Judicial Investigation Agency, and training managers – specialising in firearms – from the JIA Judicial School.

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 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.

The course 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 strengthening 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, Magistrate Roxana Chacón Artavia, coordinator of the Gender Commission of the Judicial Branch, thanked UNLIREC for organising the course, and stressed that “Without a doubt, everything that officials of the Judicial Branch learned will be very useful in the analysis and investigation of cases, which is indeed what we had intended – that there is important training so that they can resolve different events with a gender perspective”. She also thanked the Office of Cooperation and International Relations and the Technical Secretariat on Gender of the Judicial Branch for their efforts in carrying out the course, the head of the Judicial Investigation Agency, the Attorney General of the Republic and the head of the Judicial School for accepting the invitation and thus contributing to the inter-institutional approach to the problem.

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.