On Thursday 18 February 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in coordination with the International Cooperation Office and the Technical Secretariat for Gender and Access to Justice in Costa Rica, held a webinar on “Measures preventing armed violence against women”.

A total of 252 representatives from different branches of the judiciary participated, including the Supreme Court of Justice, the Judicial Investigation Department, Public Prosecutor’s Office and specialized prosecutor’s offices, as well as from executive branches, like the Ministry of Justice and Peace, Ministry of Public Security, National Institute for Women, among others. Representatives from civil society organizations and sectors of academia also participated. Given that one of the purposes of UNLIREC’s Women, Disarmament, Non-proliferation and Arms Control Programme, supported by the European Union, is to promote the participation and training of women in the aforementioned areas, it is important to highlight that 57% of the participants were women.

The webinar began with an overview and analysis of statistics on armed violence and violence against women at national, regional and global levels, emphasizing how firearms-related incidents are not only confined to feminicides, but also different types of gender-based violence, whether physical, sexual and psychological. The presence of a firearm in a context of gender-based violence should be considered a risk factor not only because of its lethality, but also because it is used to threaten and intimidate victims, increasing their vulnerability.

Furthermore, UNLIREC presented the main findings and recommendations from its Normative Study on the necessary link between rules on gender-based violence and small arms control and regulatory standards. The study analyzed the national regulations of different countries in the region. During the webinar, special reference was made to the case of Costa Rica.

In order to promote a comprehensive and inter-institutional approach to the problem, UNLIREC invited two national experts. Firstly, the head of investigation at the Homicide Section of the Judicial Investigation Department of Costa Rica, who not only shared statistical information on firearms related to homicides and feminicides at the national level, but also her experience intervening in the investigation of acts of violence against women and feminicides. Secondly, the Deputy Prosecutor for Gender also gave a presentation on national regulations and institutional guidelines applicable in cases involving violence against women and firearms. The strategies outlined by the Prosecutor included the Inter-institutional Protocol for Intervention and Risk Assessment in Situations of Violence Against Women (Circular 197 2014) and the actions of Local Committees for Immediate Care (Clais).

Finally, it should be noted that this activity took place in the framework of the campaign launched by IANSA and supported by UNODA: “Gun Free Valentine”. The campaign is running from 14 February to 8 March. Under the slogans Disarm domestic violence and Love does not include guns, the main purpose is to raise awareness about the risks of having a gun in the home, intimate partner violence and how, with more effective laws, lives can be saved.

The webinar forms part of the project Supporting gender mainstreamed policies, programmes and actions in the fight against trafficking and misuse of small arms, in line with the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, supported by the European Union.