Protection of victims and witnesses during court proceedings

NCA has constructed a 'user-friendly' court in Mzimba, Malawi that will give witnesses and vicitms of gender-based violence (GBV) the protection and privacy they need.

Supreme Court Judge Mzikamanda and Deputy Ambassador Garden opening Mzimba Magistrate Court​
Supreme Court Judge Mzikamanda and Deputy Ambassador Garden opening Mzimba Magistrate Court​

“Witnesses and victims of gender-based violence (GBV), especially children and victims of human trafficking, experience threats and intimidation during trials as court houses in Malawi currently do not provide adequate protection and privacy,” said Justice Rezine Mzikamanda of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal as he inaugurated the NCA constructed user-friendly Mzimba Magistrate Court last week.

​He was accompanied by the Norwegian Deputy Ambassad​or​, Bjarne Garden, as the first court house in Malawi specifically designed to protect children, women and other vulnerable victims and witnesses was handed over from NCA to the Judiciary.

Supreme Judge Mzikamanda commented to The Nation newspaper that, "The Trafficking in Persons Act provides for strong witness protection mechanisms that are centered on confidentiality, based on (among others) gender responsiveness, child-centered approaches and stakeholder participation”.

The opening of the user-friendly court was a significant contribution to this year’s “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” since 1 out of 3 women in Malawi report that they have been victims of physical and sexual violence.

Mzimba is a hot-spot for human trafficking and for gender-based violence. The location of the pilot user-friendly court was selected in order to address serious challenges in the district, and the Resident Magistrate of Northern Region of Malawi expressed enthusiasm that NCA has contributed this unique innovation to her region.

NCA designed the pilot court in cooperation with the Women’s Judges Association of Malawi (WOJAM) and constructed it as part of the Gender Justice Programme funded by the Norwegian Embassy.

Stein Villumstad, NCA's Country Director stressed during the opening ceremony that the new court design is a small but important contribution to the fight against gender-based violence and human trafficking. The aim must be “for survivors of such crimes to return to society with dignity and future prospects”. Deputy Ambassador Garden pointed out that this court would help serve the least advantaged people in society.​

NCA and WOJAM will monitor the use of the court and secure that the intention with the design, to give privacy and protection, is fulfilled.​

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Read more about gender-based violence and reproductive health here

NCA utilizes the gender based violence and reproductive health programmes in these countries:

Dominican Republic Etiopia
Guatemala Congo
Malawi Mali
Pakistan Somalia
Sudan South-Sudan
Zambia  

Published: Thursday, December 7, 2017