12° Nicosia,
23 May, 2024
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Children can now testify remotely, making them feel safe

''The Children's House'' initiative brings the courtroom to the kids

Source: CNA

In a significant development, children can now testify as e-witnesses in cases of sexual violence, a remarkable achievement facilitated by "The Children's House" in Nicosia. Tanya Masia, Head of "The Children's House," highlighted the transformation, attributing it to collaborative efforts among various competent agencies.

Previously, children had to appear in court, but since 2019, a law amendment allows courts to accept testimony from children in a more child-friendly environment upon the child's lawyer's request. This environment, situated in "The Children's House," offers familiar spaces and expert support, ensuring a comfortable setting for the child.

Since 2019, video conferencing equipment has been operational, enabling a live connection between the child at "The Children's House" and the court. This setup allows the child to see judges, and lawyers, and respond to examination and cross-examination questions remotely.

The teleconference operation, initiated in 2020 for Nicosia cases, expanded to all provinces by September 2024, thanks to CYTA's provision of equipment. With equipment now available in all courts and "Children's Houses" across Cyprus, children no longer need to physically attend court.

Since 2019, around 40 children have testified in court via e-testimony, with strong support from the courts, the Prosecutor's Office, the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, the 'Voice' Council, and the "Hope for Children" Organization.

Despite these advancements, there's ongoing work ahead. Since 2017, "The Children's House" has handled over 2,250 referrals, with approximately 100 cases in 2024 alone. Around 15% of these cases proceed to court.

Supervised and financed primarily by the Social Welfare Services of the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, "The Children's House" project receives crucial support from CYTA for e-interconnection between "Children's Houses" and courtrooms.

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