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The National Prosecution Authority’s Response To Addressing Gender-Based Violence In Zambia

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The NPA has reaffirmed its commitment to addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Zambia through innovative practices and collaborative efforts. Speaking at a side event hosted by the NPA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) titled ‘Innovative Practices in Criminal Justice in the SADC Region’ at the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice – 33rd Session in Vienna, Austria, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr. Gilbert A. Phiri SC, highlighted the NPA’s strides in combating GBV.

The DPP, accompanied by Senior State Advocates, Vivian Nsingo, Jacklyn Banda, and Samson Zulu, noted that GBV remains a pervasive problem in Zambia, with over a third of women experiencing physical violence and 47% of married women facing physical violence. Zambia also ranks 16th globally and third in the SADC region for child marriages, with 31% of girls married before 18 and 6% before 15.

To ameliorate some of these challenges, the DPP highlighted that Zambia has taken commendable strides in providing a legal framework for the protection of victims of GBV such as the Marriage Act no 13 of 2023 which prohibits child marriage for both customary and statutory marriages as well the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act, the Children’s Code Act and the Gender Equity and Equality Act among others.

In addition to these the NPA highlighted its significant progress through administrative innovations, and prosecutorial initiatives. These include a specialised department mandated to deal with GBV cases, with specially trained prosecutors operating in specialised courts. The Witness Liaison Officer role to support victims with transport, accommodation and meals and protective measures for traumatised witnesses such as video link testimony and pseudonyms to prevent re-traumatisation and stigma of victims. Furthermore novel initiatives such as the use of Victim Impact Statements have also had a positive impact on sentencing.

The DPP at this international forum re launched the country’s first Prosecutors Handbook on GBV which was developed with the support of UNODC. This Handbook provides insights into incorporating a trauma-based approach, managing GBV victims, and arguing cases based on international law and best practices.

However, challenges persist, including inadequate DNA and forensic capabilities, high levels of case withdrawal by victims, and limited economic support and shelters for victims. Despite these challenges, the NPA remains committed to achieving a society free from violence, where women and girls can thrive.

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The National Prosecution Authority is a statutory body established by the National Prosecution Authority act No. 34 of 2010 with a mandate of instituting criminal proceedings on behalf of the state.

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