From 6-16 April 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, delivered the Specialized Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP).

The course, as well as helping to sensitize participants on the importance of the gender perspective in tackling crimes committed with firearms, strengthens the technical knowledge of the scientific method of criminal investigation and interinstitutional cooperation in these fields.

36 (thirty-six) people appointed by the Supreme Court of the Nation, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Academy of Public Security (ANSP), and the National Civil Police were trained. Notable participants were: judges specializing in sentencing and training for a life free of violence and discrimination against women; prosecutors from the unit for crimes related to life and bodily harm, and from the unit specialized in gang crime and homicides; national police officers, including from the Gender Unit, the Forensic Science Technical Subdirectorate, Case Control, Discipline and Support for Investigations. Officials from ANSP, the Division of Professional Development, and the Division of Studies, among other areas, also participated.

The diverse nature of the group emphasized one of FIGP’s objectives: strengthening staff coordination and cooperation to optimize individual and collective efforts to tackle crimes related to violence against women and firearms.

The course was carried out virtually and was separated into six interactive conferences, in which participants could present their experiences and talk to UNLIREC instructors. The conferences addressed theoretical and technical aspects of criminal investigation and the way in which the gender perspective as a method of analysis helps us reach conclusions free from stereotypes, grounded in objective technical or scientific studies that are based on relevant theory. Case studies were conducted to highlight the absence of a gender perspective, which violates the rights of victims and their families.

During the training, emphasis was placed on the use of firearms to commit different types of violence against women, not only as a murder weapon, but also as a means to threaten, intimidate and coerce. The training stressed the importance of the correct management of a crime scene and of firearms and ammunition as physical evidence in investigations from a gender perspective. The course shared good practices with participants and urged them to strengthen interaction and cooperation across the different stages of judicial investigation, to optimize individual and collective efforts to tackle crimes related to firearms with special attention given to cases of gender-based violence. This helps to reduce levels of impunity and improves justice and security institutions.

This course forms part of the ‘Support for the integration of the gender perspective in politics, programmes and action in the fight against trafficking and the misuse of small arms’ project, funded by the European Union.