In late 2020, the President of Ukraine signed the Decree “On Urgent Measures to Prevent and Combat Domestic Violence, Gender-Based Violence, and Protect the Rights of Victims of Such Violence,” in support of providing additional procedural safeguards to children and adolescents during their interrogation in criminal proceedings.
This Decree was in line with an international practice called the Barnahus model, first implemented in Iceland in 1998. Barnahus, or House for Children, is an interdisciplinary specialized center for children established to interview children that are part of a criminal trial in a child-friendly environment with conditions to specifically minimize their trauma.
On June 15, 2021 the process of introducing the Barnahus model in Ukraine began, including a presentation of the project of piloting Barnahus model in Vinnytsia region. HealthRight’s subsidiary in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health, in partnership with UNICEF, has been implementing this project jointly with the Vinnytsia Regional State Administration, Interagency Coordination Council for Juvenile Justice of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and other stakeholders working in the field of protection of children-victims of violence.
The center aims to improve criminal proceedings according to the needs of children who are victims and witnesses of violence through establishing a child-friendly place in order to reduce anxiety, avoid re-victimization of abused children and address tasks of criminal proceedings. Children there will also be provided with integrated services, including counseling, psychological support, legal information and medical examination.
The main objective of the Barnahus is to create a child-friendly environment in order to avoid re-victimization of children, and we hope to share this objective with other regions of Ukraine.