From 15-25 June, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered a specialised course on firearms investigations from a gender perspective (FIGP) in Colombia.

The course aims to sensitise participants on the importance of the gender perspective in tackling crimes with firearms, to strengthen their technical knowledge of the scientific method behind criminal investigations, and to encourage interinstitutional cooperation in these fields.

26 officials (8 women), belonging to the National Police of Colombia, the National Insitute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science, and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia, formed part of the group who virtually attended the course, which was carried out in six virtual sessions, each with audiovisual resources and extra reading on each topic. It included a regional overview of the proliferation of firearms, as well as armed violence and its impacts, paying special attention to femicides and other forms of violence against women. The course covered the scientific, judicial and technical grounds for using the gender perspective in criminal and forensic investigations, and also discussed the importance of correctly processing the crime scene and managing firearms and ammunition as evidence of crimes against women.

The group also had the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical aspects of the course during a practical group exercise, whereby participants were encouraged to analyse different investigative scenarios and consider recurrent activities in firearms investigations, such as the preservation of the crime scene or the prioritisation of evidence, but from a gender perspective.

The course is a reminder that 14 of the 25 countries with the highest femicide rates worldwide are in Latin America and the Carribean, with a rate of 0.6 per 100,000 women in Colombia. 53% of homicides against women are committed with a weapon in Colombia. Poor management of the crime scene or evidence found there, poor treatment of victims, and preconceived ideas about women, have increased levels of impunity in acts of violence against women.

This initiative forms part of a series of initiatibves that UNLIREC is delivering to empower countries to investigate crimes committed with firearms from a gender perspective.

This initiative was possible thanks to funding from the Canadian government.