IJM Uganda Helps Pilot A Survivor-Friendly, Mobile Interview Unit
IJM Uganda has used a refurbished shipping container to create a mobile interview unit that will help alleviate the critical shortage of interview space for survivors of abuse or sexual violence. The mobile unit has been designed and furnished for the Ugandan Police Force(UPF) and will serve as a model to be piloted at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation(CID) headquarters in Kampala for use with women and children survivors of violence.
Old stations, bursting at the seams
The model interview unit is a badly-need addition for UPF District Police Stations. Many Ugandan police units do not have dedicated interview spaces as many police stations were constructed during the colonial period (pre-1962) when the size of the force was much smaller.
The force has grown considerably since and these relatively old stations are now in various states of disrepair and bursting at the seams. Any space that once may have been used for interviews has been repurposed as office or storage space. As a result, sensitive interviews tend to be conducted in shared spaces and with little privacy. Even when there is dedicated interview space, a typical police interview room is lit by overhead florescent lighting and furnished with a bare table and straight-backed office chairs - spartan decor that can be intimidating as victims share about their trauma.
Mobile and designed for trauma-informed care
IJM designed the model unit, which includes a waiting room, an interview room, and an observation room, out of a refurbished shipping container. Shipping containers are widely used by U.N. agencies and national governments for extra housing or office space. Making the interview unit out of a shipping container makes it a cost-effective and portable means of providing privacy and safety for survivors of sexual assault. The new survivor-friendly interview unit is also designed to help clients feel safe and comfortable with carpet, plush furniture, and soft lighting.
Beyond the warmer environment, the model includes state of the art audiovisual(A/V) equipment, which makes it possible to record the interviews and reduce the number of times survivors have to re-live their trauma while giving an interview. The system also produces secure recordings with embedded metadata (rendering them tamper-proof) and produces multiple CDs, eliminating the need to burn copies for evidence, case file, and prosecutor, etc.
IJM Uganda will train law enforcement personnel on how to use the model unit and the A/V equipment to secure court-worthy evidence in a trauma-informed way. IJM and its police partners in the UPF hope to scale up its use in multiple locations in Uganda once it has been tested in Kampala.