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Prosecutor protocols

  • Legislation should mandate prosecutor protocols that are centered upon survivor safety and respectful investigation of FGM.
  • Legislation should provide that these protocols allow for prosecution of offenders in the absence of the survivor, if necessary.
  • Legislation should require prosecutor training in the use of physical evidence, expert witnesses, and other trial strategies to strengthen cases in which a victim is unavailable to testify.
  • Legislation should require prosecutors to carefully consider all factors underlying a survivor’s decision not to testify, including cultural and religious beliefs, before forcing a survivor to testify.
  • Legislation should require prosecutors to prosecute offenders who violate protective orders or who threaten survivors or witnesses.
  • Legislation should require prosecutors to avoid delays in completing the trial of the offender.
  • Legislation should require prosecutors to receive training on the nature and impact of female genital mutilation, factors that may affect a survivor’s willingness or ability to participate in a prosecution, effective prosecution strategies and approaches that support victim safety.
  • Legislation should provide that prosecutors who do not pursue cases of FGM may be penalized.

(See: Prosecutor Protocols, StopVAW website)

Promising Practice - United Kingdom: Guidelines for Prosecutors and Action Plan to increase prosecutions of FGM cases

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has produced a website entitled Female Genital Mutilation Legal Guidance, a resource to aid prosecutors and caseworkers in prosecuting FGM cases. Legal Guidance resources are issued on a variety of criminal matters as an aid to guide Crown Prosecutors and Associate Prosecutors in the use of their discretion in making decisions in cases. The guidelines on FGM provide general information on the practice and relevant laws, as well as guidance on investigating, charging, and monitoring cases. The guidelines also provide information on evidentiary considerations including pursuing cases with reluctant victims or obtaining international evidence. The Guidelines are available here:  Female Genital Mutilation Legal Guidance. (last acc. 15 July 2013)

In November 2012, the CPS launched an action plan to improve prosecutions of FGM. FGM has been a specific criminal offence in England and Wales since 1985, but at the time of creation of the action plan, there had been no prosecutions for FGM. The action plan was agreed upon by prosecutors, police officers, government departments, child protection specialists, and medical professionals. General action points include:

  • gathering more robust data on allegations of FGM, so the scale of the problem can be gauged
  • identifying what issues have hindered investigations and prosecutions
  • exploring how other jurisdictions prosecute this crime
  • ensuring police and prosecutors work together closely from the start of investigations.