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Inadequate Child Protection Systems in Criminal Proceedings: A European Initiative to Empower Vulnerable Child Victims

By July 26, 2023July 28th, 2023News, Top Story
Senior Project Officer, VSE
Wed 26 Jul 2023 11:37

Courtesy: UNICEF/UN052682/Romenzi

VSE Project News

In a bid to address the myriad challenges faced by child victims with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities within the criminal justice system, the European Union recently unveiled a groundbreaking project called “Linking Information for Adaptive and Accessible Child-Friendly Courts” (LINK). The initiative, spanning two years from June 2023 to May 2025, has been granted EUR 649,930.22 in financial support.

The project’s general objective is ambitious yet vital – to enhance the integration of child protection systems into criminal proceedings, providing much-needed support and safeguarding for young victims facing violence and discrimination. The specific objectives include raising awareness among at least 320 professionals in the realms of criminal justice, child protection, and other relevant fields in six participating countries – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, and Slovenia, and indirectly affecting Austria, Hungary, and Belgium. Additionally, the initiative aims to build the capacity of at least 100 criminal justice and child protection professionals.

The primary focus is on empowering criminal justice professionals directly involved in handling cases of child victims with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, such as lawyers, judges, public prosecutors, and the police.

The inauguration of the project in Budapest

The inauguration of the project took place during the final week of June in Budapest, Hungary. With the participation of all project partners, the meeting was conducted both in person and online, reflecting the project’s commitment to inclusive collaboration.

Leading the initiative is Validity Alapitvany-Kozpont A Mentalis Serulek (Hu), serving as the Coordinator in partnership with ten other International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and institutions. These partners include Associacao Portuguesa De Apoio A Vitima (Pt), Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche (It), Fenacerci – Federacao Nacional De Cooperativas Dpt, Kera Foundation (Bg), Pic Pravni Center Za Varstvo Clovekovih Pravic In (Si), Psichikos Sveikatos Perspektyvos Viesoji Istaiga (Lt), Sabine Lobnig Consulting & Translations (At), Spolecnost Pro Podporu Lidi S Mentalnim Postizenim V Ce (Cz), Magyarorszagi Terre Des Hommes Alapitvany Laushu, and Victim Support Europe Aisbl (Be).

During the meeting, the partners presented their comprehensive plans and extensively discussed the project’s activities. They unanimously acknowledged the critical nature of working with children with disabilities and emphasised the need for a proper communication channel. In particular, they highlighted the necessity of a comprehensive ethical guideline to cater to the specific needs of children with severe disabilities.

With a shared commitment to meaningful engagement, Victim Support Europe took the lead in ensuring children’s active participation and integration into the ethical and child protection guidelines. This emphasis on empowering young victims will play a pivotal role in the project’s success.

In conclusion, the partners pledged to work closely together, establishing regular meetings and an open communication channel to facilitate the exchange of vital information. The journey has just begun, and all eyes are on the LINK project as it seeks to advance child protection systems and foster a safer, more inclusive future for vulnerable child victims across Europe.

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