Participation in legal proceedings places children at high risk of victimisation. Research from SAPI (Social Activities and Practices Institute – Bulgaria) showed that children are repeatedly interviewed about the same subject by police officers, social workers, investigators, experts, judges, etc., most of which have little child-oriented knowledge, and are not capable of correctly interrogating children. Medical examinations are still conducted without consideration for the child’s specific needs, which carries a high risk for secondary victimisation, especially in sexual abuse cases. Overall, research shows that child victims or witnesses of crime’s rights to information, accompaniment and support are not at all guaranteed.
The project aims to improve the situation of child victims or witnesses of crime in legal proceedings through an integrated approach. In support of programme priority “Supporting victims of crime”, the project promotes the use of the 2012 Directive on minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, “in order to improve mutual trust with the view to ensuring protection of rights of victims and of the accused”.
The project's final outcome is the production of a detailed model for multidisciplinary needs assessment and, on this basis, the development of an integrated approach for guaranteeing the child’s rights and best interests during their involvement in legal proceedings.
The target groups are:
1) Professionals involved in criminal procedures (police, prosecutors, judges) in Bulgaria, France, Italy and Romania, who will take part in educational activities to improve their attitudes and their capacity for guaranteeing the child’s rights in a multidisciplinary manner.
2) Professionals from the system of child protection; social service providers; forensic medicine specialists providing expertise and psycho-therapeutic support to child victims of crime in Bulgaria and France; and state policy makers, who will be introduced to an integrated approach to assessing and responding to the needs of children involved in criminal proceedings.
The project is scheduled to last 24 months. It started in May 2014 and will end in May 2016.