Deputy Attorney General, Savvas Angelides noted on Wednesday that the increase of sexual abuse and the exploitation of children has reached alarming levels in recent years, adding that "this has resulted in the filing of a significant number of cases before the Assize Court and the district courts."
Angelides was speaking at the opening of a training seminar for Law Office officials on how to better present criminal cases involving sexual abuse and exploitation offences with vulnerable witnesses as victims, organised in Nicosia by the Law Office of the Republic, in cooperation with the Council for the Implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography - "Voice" Council.
justice is served when we accept that not everyone who comes before it is the same and that we must adapt the process to the needs of the most vulnerable among us -Anastasia Papadopoulou
Angelides said that the requirement for regular training for Law Office members who may come into contact with vulnerable child witnesses becomes even more necessary "given the alarming levels of increase in sexual abuse and exploitation of children in recent years."
He stressed that "the child victim of sexual abuse and exploitation is not an ordinary witness, but a vulnerable witness who needs protection and should be treated as such."
The President of the “Voice” Council, Anastasia Papadopoulou, pointed out, among other things, in her address, that justice is served when we accept that not everyone who comes before it is the same and that we must adapt the process to the needs of the most vulnerable among us.
She said the 2014 legislation has had an undeniable influence on the changes we see today and has led to the development of the National Strategy to Combat Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation and Child Pornography, the training and specialisation of workers and professionals, the establishment of the "Voice" Council, the creation and operation of the Children's Home and, above all, the awakening to the existence of a real social issue and the need to address it comprehensively.
Papadopoulou pointed out that there has been significant improvement in the handling of such cases by the Law Office, both in their evaluation and in terms of the sensitivity with which child witnesses are treated.
Senior Counsel of the Republic, Elli Papagapiou, said in her address that the aim of this training session is, on the one hand, to better present criminal cases concerning offences of sexual abuse and exploitation of child victims and, on the other hand, to improve the approach towards vulnerable child witnesses by the legal officers - prosecutors.
The seminar included lectures by the President of the Larnaca District Court, Elena Efraim, entitled "Children - Vulnerable Witnesses, Supreme Court Approach, Child Assessment and Credibility, Role of Expert Witness in relation to child behaviour following an incident of abuse" and Olga Themelis, Associate Professor of Forensic Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Crete, entitled "Learning to listen and prepare a minor victim of abuse, protecting them from re-traumatisation".