At the Crossroads: Exploring changes to criminal justice proceedings when they intersect with child protection proceedings in cases involving child victims of violence

At the Crossroads is a legal briefing which explores the considerations for when criminal justice proceedings intersect with child protection proceedings in cases, particularly when they involve child victims of violence. Experience shows that there is a need for close collaboration among stakeholders and professionals involved in both child protection and criminal justice proceedings in order to identify opportunities for both immediate and more long-term change.

This publication supports stakeholders to achieve this by providing an overview of different key aspects regarding criminal proceedings of child victims across Europe. It concludes that there is a need for and a benefit of specialized skills and settings for child victims in the criminal justice process, and that there is also a need for more active case management.

At the Crossroads is the result of an exchange of research, experience and knowledge in workshops and discussions undertaken during 2018 and 2019. It is a living document, open for external contributions.

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The following webinar introduces the publication:


The webinar, led by Ms. Rebecca O’Donnell, focused on implementing a child-centric approach in criminal justice proceedings for child victims of violence. It emphasizes the importance of coordinating different agencies to provide a comprehensive and multidisciplinary support system for child victims. The legal foundations and procedural obligations outlined in EU directives and conventions stress the need for individual assessments, adapted premises for interviews, and specialized training for professionals involved in the process. By planning and coordinating effectively, delays can be minimized, and the child’s best interests can be safeguarded without compromising the rights of the defense.

The practical responses presented during the webinar include creating child-sensitive settings to reduce stress during interviews and build trust with the child. Achieving the best evidence from the child involves utilizing specialist skills and a structured approach to gather accurate and reliable information for the court. Balancing the protection of child witnesses with the rights of the defense is crucial to avoid miscarriages of justice. By applying these measures, the webinar aims to ensure a child-friendly justice system that respects the rights and well-being of child victims of violence. Additionally, the webinar highlights the need for more active case management and specialized skills and settings for child victims in the criminal justice process. It serves as a platform to exchange research, experience, and knowledge, creating a living document open to external contributions. The ultimate goal is to create a more effective and supportive system for child victims at the intersection of criminal justice and child protection proceedings.

About the author and presenter: Ms Rebecca O’Donnell is an Irish lawyer with extensive experience in EU legal and public affairs. Her areas of expertise include fundamental rights, child-friendly justice, child protection, asylum, migration and trafficking policies. She is co-founder of Child Circle, since 2014.  She formerly worked in Save the Children EU Office as a senior child protection adviser and as a partner in the EU office of an international law firm.

The PROMISE Webinar Series is co-organised with Terre des Hommes, a partner of this project, as part of the ChildHub’s child protection webinar series.

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