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Child victims ‘forced to testify in same courtroom as defendants’

April 12, 2019 at 11:33am
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Child victims are being forced to testify against defendants behind a partition in the courtroom because of delays in amending legislation that would permit live links from the Home of the Child, a child’s protection advocate told Phileleftheros.

Anastasia Papadopoulou is president of the council for the implementation of the national strategy on fighting sexual abuse and exploitation of children, Phoni.

She had spearheaded efforts to amend the law so that young victims can testify by link from the Home of the Child. The amendments were drafted by the Justice Ministry last October and sent to the attorney general’s office but have still not been sent back so that they can approved by parliament.

Papadopoulou told Phileleftheros that the children used to testify from an adjacent room. But after a fire at Nicosia district court destroyed the equipment there in March 2018, the children have had to testify from behind a partition in the actual courtroom.

She therefore took the initiative for equipment to be installed at the House of the Child, but its use is contingent on approval of the amendment.

The issue is expected to be discussed in the House Human Rights Committee when it meets on Monday to review progress in implementation of the national strategy on fighting sexual abuse and exploitation of children.