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Lessons learned from Witness-Victims Support in Croatia

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Mario Krešić, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor for Justice in Croatia

Mario Krešić, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor for Justice in Croatia


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  • 1. “Lessons learned fromWitness-Victims Support in Croatia” Presentation by: Mario Krešić, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor for Justice in Croatia International Conference “Judicial Reform and Empowerment of Victims” Zagreb, 28-29 November 2012
  • 2. Victims of crime Victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual crime Victims of human trafficking Victims of hate race crime Children as victims Persons with disabilities as victims Victims of war crime/Victims of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law Victims of terrorism Victims of organized crime Victims of violence Victims of property crime Victims of road traffic offences Vitcims …
  • 3. Victims rights  To be treated with respect to their dignity  Information  Assistance throughout the legal process  Social assistance  Privacy  Physical protection  Informal dispute resolution  Restitution and compensation
  • 4. Victims&Witness Support SystemInstitutions of criminal justice system:  Police  Prosecutors  Courts  Probation officesReferrals:  Public institutions (social care, medical care etc.)  Non-governmental institutions  Specialized for different groups of victims (gender based, children, etc.)  General victim-support organizationsNational Coordination mechanism
  • 5. New momentum!!EU Directive establishing minimum standardson the rights, support and protection ofvictims of crime (14 November 2012) "In criminal justice we have always been concerned with the perpetrator, not the victim. We must put these special measures in place, our goal is to put the victims first.“ (Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President and European justice commissioner, September 2012)
  • 6. WVS programme and judicial reform 1. STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT IN JUDICIARY 9. COMBATING IMPUNITY AND SUPRESSION OF SPECIFIC 2. INDEPENDENCY, CRIMES(WAR AND ACCOUNTABILITY, ORGANIZED CRIME, IMPARTIALITY AND CORRUPTION, SEXUAL CRIME) PROFESSIONALISM OF JUDICIARY JUDICIARY AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS 6. PROTECTION OF 3. EFFICIENCY OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS JUDICIARY 5. ACCESS TO JUSTICE 4. PRISON SYSTEM
  • 7. Witness-Victims Support Project
  • 8. Why witness-victims support ?1. Rights of witnesses and victims2. Efficiency of judiciary  Reducing the number of unresolved cases  Reducing impunity for crimes  Disburdening of judges  Improving public perception on judiciary3. Volunteer practiceLINK – WHY WVS? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U48cq9ucgXA
  • 9. UNDP and WVS UNDP&UN experience The “Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power,” approved by the General Assembly in 1985 UNDP recognized model: Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1784 (2011) and Recommendation 1952 (2011)
  • 10. UNDP modelCouncil of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1784(2011) and Recommendation 1952 (2011): “The Assembly further acknowledges the work of the United Nations Development Programme in Croatia in establishing witness support programmes which provide support and advice for witnesses in pilot courts…” “The Assembly therefore calls on the competent authorities in the states and territories concerned (Balkan) to provide funding for and establish witness support programmes, using those that have been set up by the United Nations Development Programme in Croatia as a model, in all courts dealing with witnesses in serious crimes.”
  • 11. Project results: system changed Legal framework changed Courts organizational structure changed Ministry of Justice organizational structure changed Strategic management by Government introduced WVS Volunteers introduced in courts
  • 12. Project Results(May 2008- November 2012: 4.5 years)* 7 WVS offices (50 % of all county courts) 14 WVS professionals in courts 12.050 witnesses and victims were supported 1.862 war crime witnesses and victims were supported Additional 8.390 witnesses received support by the telephone (data: March 2012)* 3 WVS offices started support in 2011 (data for 2 years)
  • 13. 7 WVS offices in courtsEstablished 2008-2010 :Established 2010-2011 :Plans for 2012-2013 :
  • 14. Coordination of WVS system National Governmental Committee for Monitoring and Development of Witness and Victims Support System Sector for Witness and Victims Support in the Ministry of Justice
  • 15. Volunteers in courts Victim and Witness Support Association (VWSA) The work of WVS offices is supported by network of young volunteers organized through Victim and Witness Support Association (VWSA) 223 volunteers 6854 volunteer hours in supporting witnesses in courts (May 2008 – March 2012) Court Rule Book regulates the work of the VWS Association in courts Association is a member of “Victims Support Europe”
  • 16. National Information Centerfor Victims Europeann Commission Decision 2007/116/EC on Reserving the National Numbering Range beginning with 116 for Harmonised Numbers for Harmonised Services of Social Value UNDP Project 2012- 2013
  • 17. DOES IT WORK? Recognitions Award to the project in 2011 UNDP competition of 187 countries 11th Session of Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (2012) "Fair, effective, and reliable justice systems also reduce fear and intimidation. Croatia’s victim & witness programme, supported by UNDP, had this effect, and it has been recognized by the Council of Europe as a best practice." Helen Clark, UNDP
  • 18. Number of victims Sexual Domestic Rape and sexSTATISTICS and witnesses intercourse violence related crimes supported with childZagreb * 2.441 47 143 191(2008– 2012)Vukovar** 2.839 166 633(2008- 2012)Zadar** 2.509 683 260(2008-2012)Osijek* 2.099 156 74 266(2008-2012)Rijeka 999 12 57 39(2011-2012)Split* 767 2 78 26(2011-2012)Sisak** 396 31 14 109(2011-2012)TOTAL 12.050 248 1.215 1.524 * Large-size court **Medium-size court
  • 19. DOES IT WORK? Real stories F. Č., the 40-year-old mother of a six- year-old child, was a victim of domestic violence for years. She endured continuous physical and verbal abuse until her neighbors saw her husband kick her in the stomach in front of their daughter and reported the abuse to police in the Croatian coastal city of Zadar. A few days before the case went to trial, she learned by chance about the Witnesses and Victims Support Office at Zadar County Court. Finding someone she could rely on and trust, and who would “protect” her from having to face her husband in the court building by providing a separate waiting room prior to the trial convinced F.Č. to decide to testify in court and to speak out about the abuse
  • 20. DOES IT WORK? Real stories "As an employee of a retail chain, to  Along with her summons, my greatest regret, I was the witness M.K. received contact of an armed robbery. It was an information for the Witness extremely traumatic experience that and Victim Support Office. forced me to change my job. Four  The day before her years after the event, I received a testimony she paid the summons to testify against the office a visit. Branka suspected perpetrator, and my agony Lučić, the office head, and started again. For days I could not her assistant Daniela sleep … fearful of meeting the Čukelj welcomed M.K. and suspect and of his revenge. I was re- explained the court living the fear and stress of that day.“ process and what to expect, even showing her on a diagram where she would sit. When she went to court to give evidence, M.K. was joined by the office staff.
  • 21. DOES IT WORK?Survivors of wartime sexual violence appeal for justicein Vukovar “This kind of war crimes is extremely difficult for processing, sometimes even impossible... I emphasize, none of Survivors of war rapes Đurđica Pankas and Snježana Karaula-Manjak these cases is left UN hosted roundtable, 5 April 2012 forgotten in a drawer somewhere.“ Davor Petričević, County State Prosecutor in Osijek
  • 22. Can we do more?“A life of one woman is the life of all ofus. If someone inflicts pain to onewoman, he has inflicted pain to all ofus. When I listen to stories of theseVukovar victims, who meet theirrapists every day walking freely downthe road, honestly, I would like to geta gun.However, the very fact that these Eve Ensler, American playwright, 5. Aprilwomen suppress this fury 2012. Vukovar at UN hosted roundtabledemonstrates their strength and thestrength of every woman.I cry every day for all women victimsof sexual crimes in Croatia, Bosniaand Herzegovina and in the wholeworld, I cry and I am not ashamed tosay it out loud.“
  • 23. Next steps? Strategy on Witness-victims support Roll out of the Witness-victims support offices to all county courts Establishment of witness-victims support units in police and prosecutor`s office Witness-Victims Support Association – sustainable partner to the Ministry of Justice. Referral system strengthen National Call Center for victims set up
  • 24. Lessons learned Assessment WVS Program as part of judicial reform agenda Strategic management – National Committee Institutionalized structure in the criminal justice system (employed officers and WVS units) Volunteering program in judiciary WVS Association & referral system Compensation mechanism