At an informal meeting held July 2021, the agenda for the Justice Ministers of the EU included a point on child-friendly justice, notably how the EU can help Member States develop and strengthen the protection of children’s rights at national level, and also a common EU concept and action at EU level.
The press release from the meeting reads:
Children become involved in the working of judicial systems in different ways, so the ministers devoted special attention to the protection of children and their rights in judicial proceedings. … Many countries are already developing and introducing multidisciplinary and interinstitutional models known as “children’s houses” based on the Scandinavian Barnahus concept, which focuses on the need to provide comprehensive and ongoing support to children during and after the completion of court proceedings. Slovenia is also implementing this kind of model within a joint EU and Council of Europe project.The official website of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021
The Minister of Justice of Slovenia, Marjan Dikaučič is quoted as stating, “I am convinced that by expanding this concept, it is possible to take a big step towards the higher standards of child-friendly justice.”
Press releases and other public statements from government officials and staff provide additional information about the commitments and progress being made.
Latvia’s Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Ilona Kronberga, is quoted as saying, “Practical steps should be taken to apply the existing legal norms and the best interests of the child correctly and precisely in practice. It is precisely the field of children’s rights that is where there is a huge gap between the standards enshrined in law and their practical application. “
In a press release from Latvia, the ministry notes that Barnahus has proven to be a successful tool for the protection of children’s rights, which should become a generally accepted standard. Therefore, the reform of the children’s rights protection system is and will be one of the priorities in the future work of the Ministry of Justice of Latvia. Further, Latvia noted its support for the discussions between EU member states about providing a basis for joint further action to promote child-friendly justice systems. They also noted that the implementation of Barnahus in Latvia has begun.
Lithuania’s Minister of Justice, Evelina Dobrovolska, noted that Lithuania supports the concept of Barnahus, and believes that it must be flexible and adapted to the peculiarities of the national legal system. She further noted that Barnahus has been operating in Lithuania since 2016 with a focus on child sexual abuse.
Luxembourg’s Minister of Justice, Sam Tanson, is quoted as saying, “The best interests of the child are our supreme goal”. Further, a press release from Luxembourg noted that the reform of youth protection under is preparation and will therefore take due account of the good practices identified at European level to further strengthen the rights of minors.
Romania’s Chief of Staff to the Minister of Justice noted in a Facebook post that Romania can benefit from the latest developments in the EU, especially the Barnahus model. He further notes that the Minister of Justice, Stelian Ion, has already started a working group that addresses these issues.