The Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) officially opened the newly refurbished and upgraded Victim Support Office on the 26th of July.
The event also combined the launch of other resources intended to support victims and respond to crime.
The Victim Support Service at the OPP began its operations in 2020. This service was established to assist and support the victims of crime in the prosecution process as the public prosecutor has an obligation towards the victims of crime.
Vanuatu has high rates of violence against women by intimate partners as reported in the Vanuatu National Survey on Women’s Lives and Family Relationships, undertaken in 2009 by the Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC), in partnership with the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO). Accordingly, it is among the countries in which the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) deliver the Spotlight Initiative program.
This initiative aims to support transformative change on the ground to end violence against women and girls and harmful practices, in many countries globally.
With the support of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, the OPP refurbished the Victim Support Office and built a children’s playground to create safe spaces for women and child victims inside and within the precinct of the office.
“Through the Spotlight Initiative, the EU is investing in the future of Vanuatu and its people by tackling violence against women and girls”, said Pedro Velazquez, Acting Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.
“Through Initiative, we are uprooting the causes of gender-based violence through a multi-sectoral approach, simultaneously responding to the immediate, concrete needs of victims. With the opening of the Victim Support Centre, we continue to support the OPP, enabling victims to act upon their rights and pursue justice, leaving no one behind. We will carry on with the definition of the Victims Charter in the near future.”
The renovation has created a dedicated confidential office space to be used by victims of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) for consultation and engagement with experts and service providers who include forensic medical clinicians, psychologists, police officers, and social welfare officers.
Additionally, the new Office combines a safe space where women can rest and nurse their babies, and a new children’s playground area.
“With this new Victim Support Centre, we are enabling women and children to exercise their right to access justice and fair treatment,” said Public Prosecutor Josaia Naigulevu.
“Victims have rights and are entitled to access the mechanisms of justice. The OPP is designing services centred around the victim’s needs to grant them proper access to resources. We are working across sectors and taking all possible measures to minimize inconvenience and create safe spaces where victims can be assisted and treated with compassion and respect for their dignity.”
The inauguration of the Victim Support Centre coincided with the launching of the Victim Support Manual, the Mutual Legal Assistance Manual, the Anti-Corruption Authority Investigator’s Manual, and the Anti-Corruption Authority Database, a series of resources to support victims and respond to crime.
“With the upgrade of the Victim Support Centre, and the launch of the four key documents to support victims and respond to crime, we are strengthening an ecosystem of services and infrastructures working together to enable victims to access justice in safety and dignity,” said Prime Minister Bob Loughman.