The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubkar Malami, SAN, says the Federal Government will inaugurate an Inter-ministerial Gender-Based Violence Management Committee to tackle gender violence and assault.
Malami who disclosed this in a statement he issued on Thursday in Abuja said that the setting up of the committee was due to the rising incidences of rape and sexual assault in the country.
“The committee will comprise officers drawn from, and not limited to, the Ministries of Justice, Women Affairs and Social Development, Health, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
“Others are the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Legal Aid Council, Nigerian Police Force, Civil Society Organisations, among others’’.
He said the committee will be charged to proffer a synchronised approach to address all forms of violence against women and children in the country.
“They will review all existing laws and propose to the National Assembly necessary legislative changes to ensure that offences of rape and child defilement are dealt with in consonance with international best practices.
“It will also provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure that victims and survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to stigmatisation and trauma by maintaining a Sexual Assault Referral Centre to be domiciled in the Ministry of Justice Headquarters’’.
He said the Centre will respond to the immediate Gender-Based Violence related issues and will continue to provide rapid and comprehensive response through prosecution of all forms of violence against women and children.
“They will ensure speedy processing of stalled and pending cases of rape and child defilement that got delayed due to closure of courts and government institutions during the COVID -19 lockdown period’’.
He re-affirmed state policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement.
He promised to see to it that the Federal Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from the power of prerogative of mercy remains in force.
According to him, `the Ministry of Justice will, in driving these processes bring together the 36 State’s Attorneys General to consider effective collaborative support to stem the growing tide of rape and sexual assault.
“A meeting of the stakeholders including the States’ Attorneys General will be carried out through a scheduled virtual conference in due course,’’ he added.
Malami empathised with the victims, survivors and family members of such violence.
“It is our hope that with the modest efforts of the ministry in supporting the federal government’s resolve in tackling these crimes against humanity, we will achieve a better Nigeria devoid of gender-based violence and sexual assault’’.