KARACHI: Around 22 women investigation officers and prosecutors got trained in forensic and investigation techniques at the Women Police-Prosecutor Conference held on Thursday in collaboration between the US consulate in Karachi and the Government of Pakistan.
Hailing from different towns and districts of Sindh, the participants representing the legal and the investigating side did not hit it off on a good note, initially. As it is evident by now, most investigations go awry because of lack of evidence which police prosecutors always blame on the investigation officers and vice versa. It was the same argument, by the prosecutors present at day one of the three-day workshop that started the entire discussion.
Legal adviser and high court advocate Tahir Bilal said that it was necessary, though challenging, to bring two of the most crucial departments together. “It’s good that they had a difference of opinion, because it gave us a chance to stress on the one we wanted to make. And that is, that both investigation officers and prosecutors need to work together from day one.”
Mr Bilal said that this was one of the many sessions that the consulate was planning to hold in the coming months.
Though once the ice was broken, the participants shared their experiences and blockades they faced while working as investigation officers. Most participants, who requested not to be named, spoke about the lack of facilities. An investigation officer said: “We don’t have proper equipment for forensics, so most work is done on assumptions. Most people hired to carry out the forensics are not planning to be in the field at all. So dealing with them on a daily basis can be frustrating,” said a participant. The prosecutors said that most of the “faulty or unfinished proof” they got usually ended up being rejected.
In the next session on sexual harassment at workplace, there was more focus on the laws but not much participation by the women officers. Gender and consultant trainer Maleeha Hussain, who held the session, explained the reason was, “it is not easy for people, be they of any gender, to openly speak about such issues in a one-hour session.”
About the training, she explained that such trainings helped officers appreciate their work a lot more. “It is usually believed that there is no training on such issues. But that’s not true as a lot of government and private organisations do hold training sessions for women and men both.” Most of these sessions work under an implementation framework, she said, adding that the National Implementation Watch Committee built on the orders of the prime minister in 2010 facilitates and oversees issues related to officers. Though it comes with a two-year term, it is an effective way of redress, Ms Hussain said. “The only reason people don’t know about it,” she added, “is because sessions under that framework are held in private. And it is better that way, because that’s why it has been effective so far.”