Angelidis: The sexual abuse of children has increased to alarming levels
"This results in the registration, unfortunately, of a significant number of cases before the Criminal Court and the district courts"
Assistant Attorney General Savvas Angelidis noted on Wednesday the alarming increase in child sexual abuse and exploitation in recent years, noting that "unfortunately this results in the registration of a significant number of cases before the District Court".
Mr. Angelidis spoke at the beginning of a training seminar for Legal Service officials regarding the better presentation of criminal cases related to offenses of sexual abuse and exploitation with victims of vulnerable witnesses - children, organized in Nicosia by the Legal Service of the Republic, with the Council for the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Fight against Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography - Council "Voice".
In his greeting, in the capacity of Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Angelidis noted that the seminar is organized "with a view to achieving the common goal of protecting children, these vulnerable witnesses in the procedures we have to deal with."
He said that the purpose of the seminar is to train the officers of the Legal Service, in relation to the better presentation of the most serious cases related to offenses of sexual abuse and exploitation with child victims, and the officers of the Service who come in contact with children in relation to cases of deprivation of parental responsibility.
He pointed out that "this training is part of the strategy and priorities that we set in the Legal Service for the special approach and the effectiveness required to be shown in handling cases with vulnerable witnesses, children."
He said that for this training there is a legal obligation arising from the Council of Europe Convention and the relevant national legislation of 2014 for the provision of education on the rights of the child and on issues related to sexual exploitation and child abuse, for the benefit all persons involved in the proceedings.
Mr. Angelidis said that the obligation to regularly train members of the Legal Service who may come into contact with children - vulnerable witnesses becomes even more necessary "given the worrying levels of increasing sexual abuse and exploitation of children in recent years."
"This results in the registration, unfortunately, of a significant number of cases before the Criminal Court and the district courts," he added.
Therefore, he said, the correct approach of the child-vulnerable witness from all the services involved becomes necessary and imperative.
"Taking into account that the well-being of children and the healthy formation of their personality are fundamental values that must be protected and promoted without discrimination, our contribution to claiming and protecting their rights at all stages is necessary: exploring, approaching child by the prosecutor, hearing process ", he added.
He pointed out that "the child victim of sexual abuse and exploitation is not an ordinary witness, but the vulnerable witness who needs protection and thus must be treated."
He also noted the important role of the "Voice" Council and the substantial work it performs, always guided by the best interests of the child at all levels of preventing and combating sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
He also assured that "we, in turn, will contribute to the expansion of the Children's Home in other provinces, starting, we hope, starting from Limassol".
The President of the "Voice" Council, Anastasia Papadopoulou, pointed out, among other things, in her greeting that justice is done when we accept that not everyone who comes before her is the same, that we must adapt the process to the needs of those most vulnerable.
He said that the legislation of 2014 has an undeniable influence on the changes we see today and led to the elaboration of the National Strategy for Combating Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography, in the education and specialization of the Council of », In the creation and operation of the Children's Home and mainly in the awakening of society as to the existence of a real, social issue, and the need for its comprehensive treatment.
Ms. Papadopoulou pointed out that there is a huge improvement in the handling of such cases by the Legal Service, both in their evaluation and promotion, as well as in the sensitivity with which the child witnesses are treated.
"The role of the 'Voice' Council is to be your ally, helper in your work and to offer support to your every need," he said.
He said that this seminar "is a sign of our will and commitment for cooperation".
The Senior Lawyer of the Republic, Elli Papagapiou, said in her greeting that the aim of this training action is on the one hand the best presentation of criminal cases related to offenses of sexual abuse and exploitation with child victims and on the other hand the best approach of children - vulnerable witnesses the legal officers - accusers.
The seminar included lectures by the President of the Larnaca District Court, Elena Ephraim, entitled "Children - Vulnerable Witnesses, Approach to the Supreme Court, Child Assessment and Reliability, Role of the Expert Criminological Psychology of the Department of Psychology of the University of Crete, Olga Themelis, entitled "Learning to listen and prepare a minor victim of abuse, protecting him from re-injury."