Strengthening Prosecutors Capacities for Sexual Crime Investigations: Evidence from Colombia
Last registered on September 27, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Strengthening Prosecutors Capacities for Sexual Crime Investigations: Evidence from Colombia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003010
Initial registration date
May 31, 2018
Last updated
September 27, 2018 3:26 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
CAF - Development Bank of Latin America
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
CAF - Development Bank of Latin America
PI Affiliation
Universidad del Rosario
PI Affiliation
Universidad de San Andrés
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2017-07-01
End date
2018-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Sexual violence’s victims face negative consequences, both physical and psychological, that could last throughout their lifetime. Despite their severity, sexual crimes are usually underreported because victims are afraid, are being pressured by their offenders or simply because they lack the relevant information about the process or do not trust the justice system. Furthermore, cases that are effectively reported tend to be poorly managed and are frequently influenced by social prejudices that can bias the prosecutorial processes. To our knowledge, there is limited empirical evidence about the effectiveness of different strategies aimed at improving the investigation and judicial process through training focused on reducing biases and pre-conception on the part of the prosecutors. Along with the Office of the Attorney General, we conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact on the investigation process of sexual cases of a training workshop ("Taller de socialización del “Protocolo de investigación y judicialización de violencia sexual”) for Colombian prosecutors. The workshop is part of an initiative led by the Office of the Attorney General aimed at improving the quality and outcomes of sexual crimes cases by providing prosecutors with tools to overcome technical and investigative obstacles in an unbiased and victim-centered way.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
CAF, Pilar et al. 2018. "Strengthening Prosecutors Capacities for Sexual Crime Investigations: Evidence from Colombia." AEA RCT Registry. September 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3010-2.0.
Former Citation
CAF, Pilar et al. 2018. "Strengthening Prosecutors Capacities for Sexual Crime Investigations: Evidence from Colombia." AEA RCT Registry. September 27. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3010/history/34887.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The training workshops aim to strengthen prosecutors’ capacities on how to effectively manage sexual crimes. Specifically, the main goals of the training workshops are:
(1) Familiarize prosecutors with conceptual terms related to sexual violence and how to approach the investigation process.
(2) Introduce how prejudices and biases can affect investigation processes and how to prevent them.
(3) Crime details and research acts that must be take into account.
(4) Effective trial strategies.
(5) How to treat the victim and apply differential approaches on this type of cases.
This workshop is targeted to judicial investigators and judicial police officers who have the higher proportion of sexual crime cases on their Sectional Division. Intervention will be done by Setional Division during 2 days (or 16 hours).
After the training, a work session will be held with the management team to report the results and highlight aspects that have to be improved to achieve the expected standards. Finally, a session of 2 hours will also be arranged with the local authorities of the entities involved in the investigation of cases of sexual violence and the attention to victims to present the basic contents of the Protocol and the Checklist.
Intervention Start Date
2017-09-01
Intervention End Date
2018-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Data will be aggregated at the prosecutor level for the analysis.

(1) Short-term outcome variables
Initial phase: Investigation process
- Methodological program: average number of days from the complaint (start of the investigation) to the final proposal of methodological program. In every case, prosecutors have to prepare a methodological program describing the facts, hypothesis, and investigation activities.
- Interview:
% cases with at least one reported interview
Average number of days from the start of the investigation to the interview
- Diligence
% cases with at least one reported diligence
Average number of reported diligences by case
Average number of days from the complaint to the first reported diligence
- Unsolved cases:
% total unsolved cases
% "archivo por imposibilidad de establecer sujeto activo o pasivo"
% "archivado por atipicidad" and % "inexistencia del hecho"
- Protection for the victim:
% cases with a request of protection for the victim
Average number of days from the start of the investigation to the request of protection for the victim

(2) Median and long-term outcome variables
Second phase: Indictment
% cases with an indictment
Average number of days from the start of the investigation to the indictment
Thrid phase: Prosecution
% cases with a prosecution
Average number of days from the start of the investigation to the prosecution
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Primary outcomes will be constructed using information from SPOA (acronym for Sistema Penal Oral Acusatorio, also the name of Colombia’s criminal justice system) which is a reporting and follow-up automated system.
With the training it is expected that the prosecution of sex crime cases is conducted more effectively, increasing the probability of resolution and guaranteeing at the same time, the physical and emotional well-being of victims. Specifically, we expect the training to affect:
• The speed with which investigative actions are ordered, especially at the beginning of the investigation, and specifically related to the collection of evidence.
• The quantity and quality with which the victims collaborate with the investigation process.
• The quality of investigative actions throughout the whole investigative process.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
As the training occurs at the Sectional Division level and all sectionals had to receive the training, we divided the 35 divisions in two groups (18 in the treatment group and 17 in the control group), that would receive the training with a six-month difference. We also stratified by type of Sectional Division. Sectional divisions are grouped by types depending on the number of subdirections each one of them has on their charge. In each sectional division, only 12 or 13 prosecutors could participate in the training. We created a ranking of prosecutors in each Sectional Division according to their individual load of sexual crime cases (from highest to lowest). The first 12 prosecutors were chosen for the workshop, and in some cases, this number was lower because there were less than 12 prosecutors in some Sectional Divisions. Also, 6 additional prosecutors were chosen to replace the selected ones in case that one of the originally chosen could not attend the training workshop (for Sectional Divisions that had fewer prosecutors, this number was smaller or simply did not exist).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer using Stata
Randomization Unit
Sectional Division
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
35 sectionals
Sample size: planned number of observations
We will be studying all the reports received during the first six months of 2018 for each sectional division. Analysis will be done at the prosecutor level. Each sectional division received on average 100 sexual crime reports between January and May 2017. Thus, we should have about 3,500 cases in our dataset.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
18 sectionals in the treatment group and 17 in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers