Time for Change: Improving our justice system for child victims of sexual offences

“Children have suffered adult violence unseen and unheard for centuries. Now that the scale and impact of all forms of violence against children is becoming better known they cannot be kept waiting any longer for the protection to which they have an unqualified right” (2006 UN Study on Violence against Children)

On 22 March 2019 the Commissioner hosted an event to examine how well our child protection and criminal justice systems are supporting children who are victims of sexual violence and taking action against those who harm them.

The Right Honourable Sir John Gillen spoke about his recently completed independent review of law and procedures in cases of sexual offences in Northern Ireland, highlighting the recommendations he has made to Government.

You can read Sir John’s speech here (pdf) and in MS Word format here.

Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, presented on his work to develop the Barnahus or Child House model in Iceland which brings together child protection and justice procedures within a single, integrated approach. While pioneered in Iceland the model has been adapted in a range of countries and is widely promoted by the Council of Europe. You can view Mr Guðbrandsson’s PowerPoint presentation in the link below. 

What is NICCY calling for:

  • Northern Ireland must take forward the recommendations from Sir John Gillen’s Review and must make a commitment to develop an approach modelled on Barnahus for child subjected to sexual violence.
  • This is essential if we want to ensure our justice system meets the needs of child victims, reduces the risk of re-traumatisation and improves the fairness and quality of justice for all involved.