Protection of children in criminal proceedings – training in Niš

The project „Promoting the rights of the child by strengthening the justice and social care systems in Serbia” was supported by the UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Work, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues, within the IPA 2013 programme financed by the European Union. The project is focused on the protection of minors – victims in criminal court proceedings – and on the implementation of measures protecting them from secondary victimisation. Realisation of the project and education are especially important since only 4.7% of children victims in Serbia are interviewed in especially equipped rooms adapted to children’s needs, age and maturity, and in 88.3% of cases the child gives his/her testimony in the courtroom.

This part of the training was delivered in Niš from 30 May to 3 June 2016 by Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander Psy.D., Director of the Child Protection Centre of Zagreb. The training started in May 2015 with the implementation of the NICHD protocol in conducting forensic interviews, preparation of the child for the court and therapeutic support. Members of the Units for child support in criminal proceedings were formed in four cities in Serbia (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Niš). During the previous year, they actively contributed to protecting children from secondary victimization in court proceedings, introduced children to court procedures, explained the roles of all participants and worked on improving the child capacities to give testimony better and more readily.

The aim of this training conducted in Niš in June 2016 was to increase the level of knowledge and competences related to the practical implementation of forensic interviews (NICHD) and to the child preparation for the court.

Experience of all Units for child support in criminal proceedings to victims/witnesses was presented. It indicated the necessity of a standardised protocol and the importance of adapting the method of interrogation to the individual needs of every child. It is clear that if the professionals follow the rules of interviewing, it is easier for the child/youth to build a relationship with the examiner, while the testimony includes more details and descriptions and reproductions of interactions, etc.

Special emphasis in supervision was placed on the difficulties in the interviewing process, working with a resisting child, providing forensic sensitive support, and the process how traumatised children memorise.

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