In September 2020, IRLI launched a new programme with local partner Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) on investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse. In Tanzania, more than 1 in 4 girls, and more than 1 in 7 boys experience some form of sexual violence before they reach the age of 18. Despite this, there is an underreporting of CSA and an inability of Tanzanian authorities to effectively investigate such matters. Ireland’s own history of dealing with CSA - initial underreporting followed by waves of prosecutions in the 1990s - has provided Irish criminal justice institutions with the expertise in how these types of proceedings ought to be conducted. IRLI hopes to harness these skills, and with the assistance of CDF, apply them to the Tanzanian context.
A community awareness session held by CDF in the
Mpwapwa district, 2020.
CDF already have a proven track record of advocating for the human rights of children at risk in Tanzania, including for children affected by child marriage and female genital mutilation. As such, they have developed the relevant expertise in dealing with child victims, as well as having already forged strong networks with relevant stakeholders in Tanzania. IRLI will work with CDF to develop CSA-specific training-materials, and deliver trainings to criminal justice institutions in Tanzania, as well as to social welfare officers and doctors.
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CDF meeting with communities in the Mpwapwa district, 2020.
IRLI will also facilitate both technical and information exchanges between members of criminal justice institutions across both jurisdictions. During police exchanges, trainings will be held on investigative best-practices for interviewing children and vulnerable persons. Prosecutors will be trained on evidentiary matters, including what constitutes sufficient evidence to prosecute a CSA matter. Judicial exchanges will centre on how to effectively handle CSA matters and evidence at trial, such as the possible use of video-link evidence for CSA complainants to give their testimony.
Training course organised by CDF and the Tanzanian Women
Judges Association (TAWJA) on violence against children, 2020.
IRLI envisions that the project will have long-lasting sustainable impact, and that CSA will be used as a vehicle to improve the investigations of crimes committed against vulnerable persons and victims of sexual and gender based violence more generally. To date, IRLI and CDF have already met with numerous stakeholders to develop best practices and training materials, as well as to discuss future areas of collaboration.