The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is committed to promote the rule of law consistent with International Standards at the National, Regional and International level through transparency, openness, accountability, access to justice and effective and inclusive systems. Systems and processes that offer procedural, substantive and expeditious investigations. Poor investigations might result to wrongful convictions, slow court procedures and large caseloads hence justice delayed or denied.

In practice, the DCI in partnership with the British government established a specialized unit within the directorate in the year 2016.The unit herein, DCI-Anti Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (AHTCPU) operations are guided by rule of law as enshrined in its vision and mission statement.

The units’ serenity and spacious environment with modernized child friendly offices and equipment offers an ideal opportunity for children to engage the staff for specialized services coupled with commitment to improve access to justice.

Strategies Supporting Access to Justice

Law and Practice
While solid legislation acknowledging the rights of children is a prerequisite, a major obstacle often lies in the implementation of such frameworks. For this reason, the DCI has emphasised on bridging the gap between law and practice through the strengthening of accountability mechanisms through follow ups and evaluation of the enforcement of laws addressing prevention and response to violence against children

Multi-Agency Approach.
The unit recognises the strong and important link between prevention and response. Hence has adopted multi-agency services (medical, psychosocial support and legal) to support both survivors and perpetrators of offences against children to avoid further violence. It is noteworthy that all services are be based upon survivors’ needs and safety.

Partnerships and Collaborations
The DCI has partnered with both local and international institutions in formulation and implementation of strategies geared towards prevention of crimes against children.

 The DCI in partnership with the British government established a stand-alone digital forensic lab at the unit as well as a mobile forensic lab which has enhanced response to online child sexual exploitation.

The AHTCPU is connected to INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation Database (ICSE). This database helps victim identification specialists worldwide analyse and compare child sexual abuse images.

The unit has partnered with National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NECMEC) which provides it with Cyber Tip lines in relation to online child sexual exploitation.

Investigations as a response strategy are undertaken professionally by specialized trained staff whose main objective is to aid survivors’ access justice. The Investigations are in tandem with Goal 16 of the sustainable development agenda 2030 which calls on countries to: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

The protection response strikes a balance between the right to protection from all forms of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, and the rights to information, freedom of expression and association, privacy and non-discrimination, as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international standards. The balance is anchored in the best interests of children as a primary consideration.

 Awareness Creation
Children’s use of the Internet and their behaviour and vulnerabilities online differ according to their age. To be effective, our awareness creation programs incorporate measures and messages appropriate to the different ages and levels of understanding.

The DCI works tirelessly to empower parents, caregivers, teachers and other adults who work closely with children to enable them to support and understand children’s use of ICT and the risks and hazards that they may encounter.

Access to justice depends on people’s ability to make informed decisions to resolve their justice problems The DCI has been in the forefront in empowering the publics, with knowledge revolving around crime risks hence enabling them understand and enforce their rights and participate meaningfully in society.

In conclusion, to counter risks brought about by COVID 19, the DCI AHTCPU has put forward a strategic protection framework with four main objectives:
• Empowering children and promoting their resilience;
• Removing impunity for abusers;
• Reducing availability of harmful material from the Internet and access to harm; and
• Promoting recovery and rehabilitation for children who have experienced harm.