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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2017 Croatia: Strengthening justice system in matters involving child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings in Croatia



Author: Ms. Carole Berrih, Team leader, Ms. Bistra Netkova, International consultant and Ms. Maja Horvat, National Consultant

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.

Background:

Croatia is a high-income country, that became a member of the European Union (EU) in July 2013. In the recent years, the country has made significant progress to improve its legal framework on the rights of the child, and especially the rights of child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Nevertheless, although the 2014 Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the third and fourth reports of Croatia, referring to the period prior to 2012, welcomed important achievements on policy framework, the Committee expressed its concern “about the lack of adequate support systems for victims, incidents of re-victimization of children, insufficient measures aimed at deterring perpetrators and limited access to prevention programs for children, because they are not systematically organized.”

UNICEF CO Croatia from 2012 to 2016, has supported the Croatian government through the implementation of the program “Alliances for equity and social inclusion of most vulnerable children”  with a component specifically designed to strengthen the justice system in matters involving child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings. The intended outcome of the intervention was that, by the end of 2016, the Croatian judicial system would provide an improved child-friendly environment to child victims and witnesses during court proceedings through the achievement of activities linked to three related outputs:

  • supply of training to legal and non-legal justice professionals on “Child-sensitive treatment of child victims and witnesses of crime”, and training on “Child-sensitive interviewing” and supervision of NLCPs;
  • supply of audio-visual material to 10 courts;
  • advocacy targeting decision-makers to promote making child-friendly justice a priority target in the national agenda and ensuring sustainable child-friendly procedures

Purpose/Objective:

The evaluation purposes are to determine whether this program component has improved the justice system in matters involving child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings.  The report aims to be used as a source of information by three primary intended users:

  • the MoJ to support its future programming and policy;
  • the Ombudsperson to strengthen its monitoring and advocacy efforts; and
  • UNICEF for its future programming and future steps in the next CPD (2017-2021).

Considering that the evaluation is conducted concurrently with discussions on the next Country Programme Document 2017-2021, the evaluation provided key information and recommendations to guide the Government’s and UNICEF’s efforts in the field of justice for children for the next five years.

The evaluation is a summative and formative evaluation. It analyzes the impact of the program component and provides information about how best to revise and modify for improvement.

Methodology:

The evaluation team used a mixed approach, combining qualitative and quantitative methods of data collecting and analysis in order to ensure reliability and validity of data through triangulation, as set inter alia in UNEG’s Norms and Standards : review of literature, semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, focus group discussions and observation. Key stakeholders and informants for this evaluation were identified within the inception phase. The approach was participatory, gender and human rights responsive with a special focus on equity aspects. The evaluation followed the principles of the UN Evaluation Group’s norms and standards in particular with regard to independence, objectiveness, impartiality and inclusiveness and was guided by the UN ethics guidance  as guiding principle to ensure quality of evaluation process, especially apropos conflict of interest, confidentiality of individual informants, sensitive to beliefs, manners and customs, discrimination and gender equality, to address issues of vulnerable population, particularly families with children that are disadvantaged and excluded.

Findings and Conclusions:

In terms of relevance, all programmatic activities were rated as highly relevant considering the needs of child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings. Training of judicial professionals on this matter was designed to address their lack of comprehensive training, which often resulted in secondary victimization of children during court proceedings. Supply of quality audio-visual equipment to the courts that have the highest number of cases of child victims and witnesses aimed to reduce the occurrences of multiple interviews of children.  Finally, the MoJ was fully involved in the design and implementation of the activities.
In terms of effectiveness, the number of trained judicial professionals exceeds the initial projection. All interviewed professionals rated the quality of the general training as excellent, due to the use of a mixed approach including theoretical presentations, video footages and practical exercises comprising role play. High-quality audio-visual equipment was provided to 10 courts. In terms of impact, training of judicial professionals resulted in a significant increase in knowledge about child victims and witnesses, leading to a positive change in their behavior and practices toward children during interviews. As a result of training activities and supply of audio-visual equipment, children are rarely still subjected to repeated interviews.
In terms of sustainability, the design of the program component included several elements aiming at making activities sustainable after 201. The program component managed to develop courts’ capacities to ensure the continuation of audio-visual material use in all 10 courts.
In conclusion, based on a review of literature, discussions with UNICEF, key informants, training participants, observation and on-line questionnaires results, this report shows that the program component has successfully strengthened the justice system in matters involving child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Recommendations:

Use of audio-visual equipment

  • To the MoJ: promptly engage in discussions with the company in charge of maintaining the audio-visual equipment to find a durable solution to remaining recording problems, by June 2017

Continuity of training for judicial professionals

  • To UNICEF CO and the MoJ:consider a higher level of advocacy targeting Judicial Academy(JA) to guarantee that the issue of child victims and witnesses is included in the next training agenda, by December 2017
  • To UNICEF CO: consider the development of more in-depth training modules on equity and gender dimensions, by December 2017
  • To the MoJ and JA: provide initial training for all investigative judges who have not been targeted by the program component, by December 2018

Monitoring

  • To the MoJ and the Ombudsman: implement a data monitoring system to record the number of cases of children in courts and the number of interviews of children that use the video link, disaggregated by gender, age and disability groups, by December 2018.

Strengthening the impact of training for previously trained judicial professionals

  • To the MoJ and JA: provide regular and continuous training for previously trained participants to strengthen the level of their commitment and avoid practices that lead to secondary victimization, by December 2018
  • To the MoJ: reflect on the possibility of working toward the specialization of judges, by December 2018; consider promoting a framework to establish regular exchanges between NLCPs, judges and State attorneys at court level to further strengthen cooperation

Reinforcing coordination and multidisciplinary activities in the field of child victims and witnesses

  • To the MoJ: develop standardized procedure and increase coordination among actors and professionals in contact with child victims and witnesses of crimes, by July 2019
  • To UNICEF CO: provide training on child victims and witnesses for social workers, lawyers and healthcare professionals, by July 2019

Lessons Learned:

Key lessons learned

  • Participation of national stakeholders is key to the program component’s performance
  • An open non-mandatory selection procedure for training does not ensure participation of all target groups
  • One training course, despite its high quality, is not sufficient to fully change training participants’ practices
  • Closer involvement of the institution likely to continue implementation of the activities is needed



Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2017

Country/Office:
Croatia

Region:
CEE/CIS

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Child Protection

Language:
English

Sequence #:
2017/001

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