[21.02] Focus on children’s well-being during criminal investigations: EUAM presents modern practices in Poltava, Central Ukraine

February 21, 2022

The European Advisory Mission (EUAM) continues sharing the best EU experience on child-friendly justice approach all over Ukraine. A series of workshops focused on the children’s rights and health during criminal investigations were held in Poltava, Sumy, Kharkiv regions, and government controlled part of Luhansk region.

The child-friendly justice approach promoted by EUAM presents best international practices how to interview children in criminal proceedings, aiming to make them less harmful for children and more informative for investigators. 

The most recent event was organized as an online workshop on 11 February and attended by the juvenile justice public prosecutors, lawyers, judges, police investigators, social services representatives who operate in Poltava region.

“Child-friendly justice is primarily about the protection of children’s rights, but also about successful cooperation of police, public prosecution, judicial authorities, lawyers, and social services.’, highlighted Ove Urup-Madsen, Head of the EUAM Kharkiv Field office. “The protection of the rights and the health of children during criminal proceedings is a major obligation. It concerns all of us.”

In the course of the round table, the participants got an opportunity to familiarize themselves with Spanish, Dutch, and Finnish experience on interrogations of children during criminal investigations.

“Children can’t be treated like adults in the course of criminal investigation as they are vulnerable and require an individual approach while questioned, “emphasized Elena Aguero, EUAM senior adviser and public prosecutor in Spain. Using practices from her home country Spain, the EUAM expert presented how the rights of children to be heard and informed, as well as the rights for protection, non-discrimination and privacy can be realized.

Leonardo Van Roekel, EUAM Rule of Law Adviser from the Netherlands, and Crista Helena Granroth, EUAM Criminal investigations trainer from Finland, presented their countries’ experience on how law enforcement agencies and social service workers can work together to minimize the traumatic effect on child during interrogation.

The Ukrainian experience on integrating child-friendly justice approach was presented by Pavlo Parkhomenko, Head of Bahmatsky District Court of Chernyhivsk region. The judge told the participants about the Barnahus concept, a unique approach when judicial, public, medical organizations closely cooperate to provide timely and professional support and assistance to a child and its family during court proceedings. Special attention was paid to the use of Green Rooms, child-friendly space used for interviewing children in police stations during criminal investigation. “The Green Rooms and Barnahus approaches proved to be very effective to protect children’s rights and mental health. They still require certain changes in Ukrainian legislation, but I encourage you, my Poltava colleagues, to start thinking about how you can use it in your everyday work.”