On June 6, 2018 around 30 Hungarian professionals met to discuss how the Icelandic Barnahus model can be adapted in the Hungarian justice system, so that child victims of sexual violence can get protection as well as perpetrators can be put to justice. Margret Rögnvalsdottir, Icelandic prosecutor, Hjörtur Adalsteinsson, Icelandic judge and Rebecca O'Donnell, child rights specialist of ChildCircle have helped this discussion by presenting the Icelandic experience and how principles such as the equality of arms and immediacy can be upheld in Barnahus.
Hungarian judges and prosecutors pointed out that in the current Criminal procedural law judges were not allowed to be present at witness testimonies during the investigation phase, but showed openness to adapting the Barnahus approach, if a change in law enables it. On the other hand, representatives of child protection explained that they already had a building designated for the second Barnahus, and wanted to start operations in January 2019: they had very specific concerns regarding the training of professionals, procedures that need to be put in place, and how inter-agency cooperation can be ensured.
Rebecca O'Donnell presented the tools that the EU-funded project PROMISE has developed earlier, which includes a compendium of laws from countries where Barnahus are established, and a Guidance on Quality Standards, which gives very concrete examples and descriptions of how a Barnahus should be set up.
"It is clear we cannot jump the 20 years Iceland has gone through to establish Barnahus, but we do need to start to build lacking institutions for a child-sensitive justice that follows Hungarian legal traditions" -said Szilvia Gyurko, child rights expert and founder of "Hintalovon" Foundation.
The roundtable has been part of the PROMISE 2 project, and will be followed by a training of trainers as well as a follow-up roundtable in the coming year.
PROMISE 2 is being co-funded by the European Union.