By holding violent offenders accountable, prosecutors communicate to the community that domestic violence will not be tolerated.
(See: Role of Prosecutors, StopVAW, The Advocates for Human Rights; Prosecutorial Reform Efforts, StopVAW, The Advocates for Human Rights; and CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Violence, UK (March 2009).)
Promising practice: the law of Spain creates the position of “Public Prosecutor for cases of Violence against Women,” who must supervise, coordinate, and report on matters and prosecutions in the Violence against Women Courts. (Article 70) The legislation also requires prosecutors to notify complainant/survivor of the release of a violent offender from jail and requires prosecutors who dismiss cases of violence against women to tell the complainant/survivor why the case was dismissed.
Legislation should include a pro-prosecution policy in cases where there is probable cause that domestic violence occurred. This will ensure that the violence is treated seriously by prosecutors and allow complainant/survivors to retain some agency about the decision. (See: UN Handbook, 3.8.3)
Absent victim prosecution
Legislation should provide for the possibility for prosecution of appropriate cases despite the inability or unwillingness of the complainant/survivor to testify. This approach ensures the safety of the complainant/survivor yet offers the support of the criminal justice system. (See: UN Handbook, 3.9.5.) Legislation should require prosecutors to consider all evidence in a case that might support or corroborate the statement of the complainant/survivor, including evidence of a history of abuse.
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