Contact Person: Dr. Aisa Muya
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GBV and VAC Forensic Evidence Management Success Story
Gender-Based Violence and Violence-Against Children are the serious public health concern and a human right violation with negative consequences that impact people’s lives, in many countries, including Tanzania. Yet the successfully investigation and prosecution of such cases, in most cases needs the collection, preservation and forensic analysis of evidence. Forensic analysis of evidence is often crucial to determinations of guilt or innocence. Moreover, an efficient system requires a chain of evidence that allows the forensic evidence collected from the health facility to proceed to a forensic laboratory for analysis, and hence to the police for action. Often forensic evidence is poorly collected at the health facility due to providers’ inadequate knowledge and skills for collection and creating a chain of custody for this evidence. Limited communication between the police, healthcare providers and the forensic analyst are among the factors that inhibit effective forensic process in the country.

Therefore Management and Development for Health (MDH) takes a lead in coordinating development of the guideline for forensic evidence management on gender based violence (GBV) and violence against children (VAC) as the way of strengthening forensic evidence chain of custody in the country. The development of this guideline undergoes different stages from identification of key gaps on forensic evidence management in the country, formulation of task force team, pilot trainings and government endorsement.

On development process different key stakeholders on GBV and VAC issues were involved. From government ministries, non-governmental organizations, international organizations to implementers at ground level. The key ministries involved were; ministry of Health and Social Welfare through its section Maternal and child health and Government Chemist Laboratory agency, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs through Attorney Generals Chambers .

For the first time in the country we developed the guideline which is addressing the key gaps in forensic evidence management on GBV and VAC related cases and that has led to adoption of the guideline by the Government. It is now used as the ‘’ National Guideline for Forensic Evidence Management on Gender Based Violence and Violence against Children’’. Moreover this guideline is now owned by the entire mentioned government ministries that will make easy its implementation.

We have also succeeded to involve implementers from the working ground during the development process of this guideline.  This was done though pilot training from which we collected recommendations from more than 300 services provides from different cadres of three different regions of Tanzania.

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During orientation of this guideline different cadres from which the chain of custody is observed brought together. The cadres involved are; Medical practitioners who are dealing with management of the survivors; Social welfare officers who are dealing with welfares of the survivor; Police officers who are the custodian of the whole investigations and crime scene managers and State attorney/prosecutors who are prosecuting the case. These combinations makes this intervention very successfully since every cadre knows it is victim centered approach.

Most of the training participants recommended this type of training style. To mention the few quotes from the participants ‘’ the most valuable thing about the workshop is; ‘’Improvement of knowledge and skills on forensic evidence management and management of survivor,’’ ‘’interaction and networking between different cadres during sessions and discussions’’ and ‘’Presentation of evidence in court (Moot court) which give more confidence for the expert witness ‘’

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The said guideline was used to orient 648 service providers from Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Dodoma, Shinyanga and Mara regions. Among them 43 were trained as Training of Trainers (TOT). The orientation leads to increase of awareness and strengthening the chain of custody for forensic sample management. As it was mentioned by different service provides ’’ majority recommended that the workshop is the good way to lean the material’’

Among the biggest issues point-outed during the orientation process was increased awareness on how to fill different forms used in investigation and how to maintain the chain of custody. To site the few examples is the common questions and issues raised on this particular area during discussions.

The common issues raised were;

  • Challenges on filling the PF3 form , some of the mentioned reasons were;
  • . Lack of knowledge on how and when  to fill the form
    . Lack of confidence to  be witnesses in court
    . Some were not sure who is supposed to fill the PF3 form ( for the case of  Clinical Officers and Assistant Clinical Officers)
    . Lack of motivation – the delay of allowance which are supposed to be paid by the court

  • Survivors being charged for filling Police form number 3 (PF3) which costs from  3,000/= up to 5,000/=
  • How to establish the evidence of penetration
  • Whether the suspect should consent before the collection of forensic samples
  • Lack of forensic evidence collection kits at the health facilities
  • Recommended time for DNA sample collection

Moreover in our trainings we succeeded to formulate local directorate between different cadres working in the same area. The teams were selected based on the police districts directorate. Therefore every police senior officer among the group was selected to be the team lead. Each team was comprised of all the four mentioned cadres who are working in the same area. The team members were provided with the contact address of all the team members. This was done in order to fasten the communication between the groups and therefore facilitate efficiency in helping survivors. The teams were established in Mbeya, Mara, Shinyanga and Simiyu regions.

Additionally this program thrived to improve understanding on collection of proper samples, how to maintain chain of custody, the laws of the country that govern the chain of custody for forensic samples and importance of professional borders that can contribute to the failure of many cases if not observed. The vivid example of this was seen in our pre & post-test and OSPE (objective structured practical examination) test which were done before and after trainings.

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Furthermore due to increase of awareness in the country and ongoing trainings on how to collect forensic samples, the increase in number of forensic samples is expected. Consequently anticipates pilling up of sample at the Government Chemist Laboratory Agency (GCLA) from which all the DNA analysis is done. In Tanzania GCLA is the only laboratory which is having the capacity to do analysis on Human DNA. Forensic Bureau of police (FB) has DNA section which is not functioning due to lack of equipment’s and supplies. MDH therefore support’s FB laboratory in building DNA testing capacity in order to overcome this problem. Supporting DNA capacity at this laboratory will speed up the analysis of samples and therefore justice can be obtained. To mention few supports MDH does so far is procurement of equipment and supplies.

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