Cyprus Mail

Push for a more child-friendly justice system  

By Evie Andreou

Hope for Children (HFC) UNCRC Policy Center announced on Wednesday it would lead an EU funded project on child-friendly justice for minors who are victims of sexual violence.

The project, announced on the occasion of the first European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual abuse, aims to improve children’s experience with the judicial system. The project is called JudEx+.

“It aims to improve the skills of professionals involved in representing children in judicial proceedings through training which take into consideration children’s rights, their developmental needs, and social background in countries where the Lanzarote Convention has recently been ratified,” the HFC said in an announcement.

Through its activities, JudEx+ will promote Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, in relation to the right of the child to be heard and involved in decision making, whether at home, in the general life of the community, at school or in individual legal and administrative matters in cases of sexual violence, the HFC said.

“In the framework of this EU project, HFC will further enhance the work of the ad hoc ministerial committee, that has been created in order to draw up a strategy for the protection of children from sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and child pornography,” it said.

It added that JudEx+ will also be able to provide the necessary training to the officers that will be called to staff the ‘House of the Child’ infrastructure, whose establishment was announced by the ad hoc committee. “The ‘House of the Child’ will be a space where all the necessary procedures for the initial treatment of an incident of child sexual abuse and exploitation will be carried out”.

“This project will ensure the stability of these officers through intensive training, case management, and supportive services,” it said.

The Director General of HFC Joseph Varughese, said that this infrastructure “will contribute greatly to a more effective and less painful ordeal for the children dealing with such traumatic experiences”.

HFC, will implement this EU project, in collaboration with partners from six EU countries (Frederick University – Cyprus; CESIE – Italy; Rinova – United Kingdom; Know & Can – Bulgaria; Folkuniversitetet – Sweden; University of Primorska – SIovenia).

A collaboration was also established with MICROSOFT Cyprus, which will be sponsoring multiple-choice scenario-based game for the project’s web-site, and a windows phone application for dissemination and awareness raising.

The project is funded by EC Action grants supporting transnational projects aiming to build capacity for legal professionals in child protection systems and legal professionals representing children in legal proceedings.

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