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Experts Call for Sparing Justice for Victims in Cases Involving Children

Experts Call for Sparing Justice for Victims in Cases Involving Children

Sofia, December 24 (BTA) - Experts of the Social Activities and Practice Institute (SAPI) insist that there should be sparing justice procedures for crime victims, particularly in cases involving vulnerable groups such as children. Speaking to the press, they said it is important for Bulgaria to ensure better protection of the rights of child victims of violence in 2017.

The participants in the news conference included Prof. Neli Petrova, SAPI Executive Director Darinka Yankova, Dr. Nadya Stoikova, Violeta Alandjiiska who head the Juvenile Crime Department at the Sofia Interior Ministry Directorate, prosecutor Ivo Iliev and other experts.

According to information of the Supreme Prosecution Office of Cassation, 1,167 children were registered as victims in January-September 2016 as well as 1,916 juveniles, said Nadya Stoikova, who heads the Programmes and Projects; Children and Justice Directorate. The statistics for 2015 shows that those figures were respectively 1,600 and 1,966.

Legislative changes are called for to protect the rights of so many child victims of violence, Petrova said. Although Bulgaria is in the process of transposing the EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, these changes are delayed.

According to the directive, Bulgaria has to change the treatment of victims of severe crimes and the law should provide support for the victims at any point of the legal procedure.

For many years now Bulgaria has been working for change in the practice of child hearing, and for putting making it compliant with the requirements of the international legislative acts to which this country is party. The goals of such practice are to evade additional traumatization of the child in the investigative and judicial procedures, and to protect the child's rights and interests while ensure the gathering of full and correct information on a given case.

Specialized rooms have been established for child hearing, the so called "blue rooms" where children are questioned by trained specialists in a child-friendly atmosphere and in the presence of all relevant participants in the criminal justice process.

According to the Institute, the blue rooms are the best practice for child-friendly questioning of crime victims and witnesses.

Bulgaria has been using blue rooms for ten years now and they have been used for questioning of 204 children, including 40 in civil cases and 164 in criminal cases.  Sofia has two blue rooms: one operational since 2009 and the second since 2011.

Source: Sofia