Training on Working with Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) in Czechia

IOM Czechia, in cooperation with the Department of Equality of Women and Men of the Government Office of Czechia and the Government of Ukraine, is building capacities for Czech authorities and NGOs in assisting and supporting Ukrainian war crimes survivors who might reside in Czechia.  

From April 8th to 11th, a pivotal training on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) took place in Prague. IOM Czechia organized it in cooperation with the International Institute of Criminal Investigations (IICI, the Hague). The training focused on capacity-building for professionals from Czech NGOs with established GBV expertise, crucial in handling potential survivors’ cases. 

With 18 participants from NGOs and state law enforcement, this training addressed a capacity gap in the war crimes area. As Czechia hosts large numbers of Ukrainian refugees and Czech NGOs assist numerous clients with Temporary Protection — some of whom might be survivors or witnesses to war crimes — the training's emphasis on CRSV and its intersection with trauma-informed assistance is very timely. 

Modules on the international legal framework surrounding CRSV (including the local legal and procedural context of Czechia) shed light on the national landscape and especially the challenges and opportunities it presents in providing assistance to potential Ukrainian war crimes survivors. 

The essential role of intermediaries and interpreters in facilitating communication between survivors and investigative authorities (particularly in cases where language and significant cultural barriers exist) was highlighted as well. Participants learned some strategies for effective collaboration in ensuring accurate interpretation of survivors' accounts while maintaining confidentiality and sensitivity. 

A key highlight of the training was the emphasis on a trauma-informed approach to interviewing, recognizing the profound impact of trauma on survivors and the importance of sensitive, empathetic engagement of a witness in the justice process. Immersive role-playing exercises which took up a great part of the last two days of the training confirmed this notion. 

In those, participants took on the roles of both survivors and investigators and conducted mock interviews, followed by intensive and detailed feedback from the trainers.  

The significance of this CRSV training extends beyond its immediate impact. As the first of its kind in Czechia, it strengthens the country's capacity to effectively help and assist protentional Ukrainian survivors in the process of justice. As for the day-to-day humanitarian operations of Czech NGOs already working with GBV survivors (Ukrainians among them), our training equipped these frontlines with the basic expertise needed to support CRSV survivors.  


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