Guidelines launched for victim empowerment

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pretoria - Government on Wednesday launched National Policy Guidelines for Victim Empowerment which will serve as a reference point for those involved in helping victims of violence, abuse and crime.

The guidelines will inform stakeholders about the establishment, development, delivery and nature of services as well as benefits to the victims.

"We need to put it clear that the policy guidelines are meant to improve the quality of victim empowerment services and underline our government's commitment to address violence and crime," said Deputy Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini.

Ms Dlamini launched the guidelines in Pretoria on Wednesday, saying that it will serve as a framework to facilitate the establishment of partnerships for integrated, effective and efficient service delivery.

This approach, she said, would address the diverse and sensitive needs of victims of violence and crime in a holistic manner.

The policy guidelines further aims to give strategic direction on the development of management structures for effective co-ordination of the victim empowerment programme at all levels as well as identify and clarify sector specific roles and responsibilities.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Anthony Buckingham, who was also at the launch, said that the overall development objective was to contribute to building safe and peaceful communities, strengthening the human rights culture and providing more effective resoponse to victims of crime and trauma.

"Gender-based violence particulary directed at women and children, remains a serious concern in South Africa and globally. We are glad to be part of the guidelines that focuses on the need to prevent victimisation, to protect and assist victims, and to treat them with compassion and respect for their dignity," he told BuaNews.

Mr Buckingham said through their partnership with the department, they had devised an approach which brings together all government services working in the victim empowerment sector under a single roof.

"We've established one-stop centres with the belief that victims should have access to judicial and other mechanisms to seek remedy for the harm they suffered and obtain prompt redress. Additionally, victims should have access to specialised assistance in dealing with emotional trauma and other problems caused by their victimisation," he said.

He commended the South African government and civil society organisations for the policies they have adopted and for the action already taken to support victims of crime.