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  • Writer's pictureAneta Fraser & Jacek Szkudlarek

Summary of the seminar 11th May 2022

We would like to thank all participants for their engagement and fruitful contributions.

Scroll down for a quick summary of our recent seminar:

Justyna Głębocka PhD of the University of Warsaw in her presentation entitled “International and European Procedural Safeguards for Juvenile Offenders” addressed the main international instruments, age-appropriate justice, and the diversion from judicial proceedings, and emphasized the importance of procedural safeguards. Dr. Justyna Głębocka defined the juvenile justice system as the procedure aimed to find the right balance between the protection of society and the best interest of the child, as a developing and learning human being. The nations that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 20 November 1989, are bound by international law and must act in the best interests of the child. The Convention has become a guiding light for the EU Members States, which have taken various actions to promote children’s rights, such as establishing the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused in criminal proceedings. Dr. Justyna Głębocka emphasized the differences between the juvenile court system and the adult criminal system. The juvenile court system is focused mainly on the rehabilitation of juveniles, i.e., mediation, preventive programmes, alternative dispute resolution methods and the availability of more sentencing options compared with the adult criminal system. Also, children and adolescents are not as responsible as adults for their actions and are often exempted from severe punishment.

Prosecutor Denise Villela is affiliated with the Fundação Escola Superior do Ministério Público. In her speech entitled “Children and Adolescents’’ Testimony as Victims or Witnesses of Violence in the Brazilian Criminal System, she highlighted that the Federal Law no 13.431 (2017), which is supplemented by Federal Decree n 9.603 (2018) guarantees the protection of children and adolescents during the interview. Brazilian law defines a child as an individual less than 12 years, while adolescence is defined as an individual aged between 12 and 18 years. According to Article 7 of Law No. 13.431/2017, specialized listening is the procedure of interviewing a child or adolescent about a situation of violence. The interviewer is obligated to explain to the child the basic rules of the interview, using age-appropriate language. Also, the interview must be conducted in a private, quiet room, without any distractions, such as toys. The following article of Law No. 13.431/2017 provides a legal definition for special testimony, which is explained as the procedure of hearing a child or adolescent victim or witness of violence by the police or the judicial authorities. It needs to be underlined that the time lapse between the special testimony and the criminal fact must be as short as possible, in order to avoid false memories, which are usually generated by internal cognitive processes.

Andrea Zampini PhD of the Sapienza University of Rome, in his speech entitled “Special Safeguards for Juvenile Offenders in the Italian Legal System” addressed the range of rights which protect juveniles in the Italian justice system. Most of them were taken from The Code of Criminal Procedure (DPR 447/1988) and Juvenile Criminal Trial “Code” (DPR 448/1988), which were established in 1988. Particular attention was given to the three main sets of rules, which are technical, affective and psychological support, procedural adaptions and privacy. In terms of the technical, affective and psychological support, it was suggested that the judge should be specifically prepared, as he is a sort of interpreter of the procedural activities. Other participants in the proceedings are the technical assistants, who are chosen by the minor, and should support the minor during the interview, i.e., in the presence of parents or relatives. Dr Zampini shed some light on various minor’s rights, such as the absence of civil action, or direct cross-examination, which means that the questions are only asked by the prosecutor and the lawyer. All hearings and activities are held behind closed doors. However, offenders who are more than 16 years old could request open court; that is, anyone, including the press could attend a hearing. Also, attention was given to the rule of forbidden publications because it is not allowed to publish information that could possibly reveal the identity of the offender. In fact, these rules are often easily broken, mostly without legal consequences.

Magdalena Kowalewska-Łokuć PhD, in her speech entitled “Questioning a minor in polish criminal proceedings based on international and European standards”, suggests that Lanzarote Convention and directive 2011/36/EU had an impact on the shape of regulations in the Polish Criminal Procedure Code. Following the provisions of the aforementioned laws, children are investigated in special rooms called “blue rooms” with the assistance of a psychologist in almost every case. The practise contributes to this. According to the statistics, some judges don’t create a friendly atmosphere, which is one of the main problems with creating an exact environment during questioning. Polish legislator is developing some new approaches to improve the victim's rights during questioning, including mandatory training for judges.

Koidu Saia PhD in her speech “Interprofessional collaboration in social rehabilitation service for dually involved children in Estonia” presented the newest regulations which came into force in recent years. The research which is the basis of these regulations established collected data like topical analysis and quantitative content analysis. Interprofessional collaboration (IPC) played a significant role in developing the amendment of the law, as one of the principles of Child-Friendly Justice (CFJ). For example, every examined group such as children and parents paid attention to relevant factors that enabled to outline of significant proposals, incorporated into the judicial system. The speech's conclusion was the postulate of developing Interprofessional Collaboration from the perspective of children’s needs.

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