In Romania, 1 in 5 victims in the prosecutors’ files is a child. Through the #LocDeBine campaign, we managed to get the word out to those who decide and to increase the degree of awareness on this inimaginable cruel reality and the number of hearing rooms for minors.
The drama of each child ends up in a file at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the little ones are passed through institutions: from the police, to the DGASPC, to the prosecutor, to the judge. However, throughout Romania, prior to the campaign initiated by the “Zi de Bine” (”The Good Day”) Association, there was only one hearing room specially designed for the child victim or witness. Thus the #LocDeBine (#TheGoodPlace) project was born.
There is a face of Romania that many of us do not know and would not know how to recognise. It looks as Mari, the turquoise-eyed girl kidnapped by a criminal group and forced into prostitution, tells it, which included, among other things, running a foster home where the police took her to be safe.
The reality is also as Mihai tells it, kidnapped, drugged, raped, forced into prostitution in the “Mica Sodoma” club in Brasov, a gay club frequented by priests, mayors, lawyers, renowned surgeons.
The reality is, as Larisa confessed to us in the podcast “Zi de Bine”, a survivor of human trafficking, abused and enslaved by her own father, married with tears in her eyes and a knife in her back, taken across the border without any papers, disappointed and left alone by every state institution she turned to for protection.
The reality is that one in five victims in cases brought by Romanian prosecutors is a child.
Both in the United States and in Europe, there is an international model of good practice, which in the US is called the Child Advocacy Center, and in Europe, Barnahus.
This model refers to multidisciplinary and interagency interventions organised in a child-friendly setting. Through meeting the child under one roof and in an integrated way, the Barnahus provides for coordinated, instead of parallel and overlapping, criminal and welfare procedures.
A key goal is that all Barnahus and similar services progressively develop excellence in practice according to international law and to the Barnahus Quality Standards and that there is a balanced response including all “four rooms”, embedded in a multidisciplinary and interagency environment.
The main objective of the campaign was to raise the alarm about the repressive trauma to which child victims or witnesses of crimes are subjected, through multiple hearings at different stages of the judicial process, by those who should bring them justice, and to generate at the same time a systemic change, by setting up 7 hearing rooms at the prosecutor’s offices in the country.
The campaign addressed several target audiences: authorities and stakeholders throughout the justice system, minor defendants and victims of crime, corporate environment, media & general public.
The message of the campaign is best focused in the name “Loc de Bine” which was designed as an antithesis to any experience that child victims of bullying have been exposed to.
The main message was then broken down for each audience category and spread through national and local media (TV, radio, print and online) and social media.
“Loc de Bine” is an initiative that gives the opportunity to conduct the hearing of the minor following an age-appropriate protocol and by a specialist interviewer, in a space specifically designed for children, with elements and support materials to help them tell their story.
PHASE 1: attracting founding
For the implementation of the project LOC DE BINE, the Association encouraged individuals to form an association, in order to have more credibility and traction. Thus, the Association for Victims of Sexual Offences (VIS – in Romanian means DREAM) was born, which aims to support by all means the investigation of crimes of violence against minors, together with which Day of Good has realized the first 3, and by the end of the year 7 hearing rooms for minors. The funding for the first 3 juvenile hearing rooms in our initial plan came from three large companies with social involvement values close to those of our campaign: LIDL, e-ON and Unicredit Bank.
PHASE 2: Implementation
In order to be able to build these rooms, we needed permission from the Public Ministry. We had, from the beginning, the support of the Attorney General of Romania and, especially, that of the prosecutors who handle cases of sexual offences involving minors and who understood very well the traumas to which these children are endlessly subjected through hearings and rehearings until the end of a trial. They had also witnessed the pain and tears of the little ones so many times in the past.
PHASE 3: Communication
The communication was divided into two sections:
- A) The project announcement.
- B) The moment when the first minors’ hearing room was completed.
PHASE 4: Instead of Epilogue, 4 more rooms
The echoes of our campaign have been so resounding that requests have also come from other prosecutors’ offices in the country. So far, we have inaugurated 4 more rooms in Argeș, Sibiu, Mureș and Bacău.
PHASE 5: afterward
Just one year after the launch of our #LocDeBine campaign, we initiated a new campaign: #LocDeAdevar after we attracted the Ilfov Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ilfov County Council, DGASPC Ilfov, the National Centre for Mental Health and Drug Abuse Control and the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Trauma.
Practically, we have realized together with them the first Integrated Centre in Romania for Supporting the Investigation of Violence Against Children.
The new multidisciplinary space, consisting of a hearing room, an assistance room, a forensic investigation room, including the first forensic colposcope in Romania and a social and therapeutic assistance area has been inaugurated in Săftica. LocdeAdevăr was created by replicating the international best practice model which in the USA is called Child Advocacy Center and in Europe, Barnahus.
FEB 2021 – first 3 minor hearing rooms in the Public Prosecutor’s Offices at the courts of Constanța, Vrancea and Vâlcea.
DEC 2021 – people in the system have requested and we have realized 4 more juvenile hearing rooms
20% of Romania has juvenile hearing rooms
in county court prosecutors’ offices after our efforts
5 institutions join the project: Ilfov Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ilfov County Council, DGASPC Ilfov, the National Centre for Mental Health and Drug Abuse Control and the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Trauma Association
2022 – Romania’s First Integrated Centre to Support the Investigation of Violence Against Children #LocdeAdeAdevăr
The first forensic colposcopy in Romania
35 cameras in the near future
The project of the seven “Places of Good” has already been taken over by the Public Ministry, and the General Prosecutor’s Office is going to set up another 35 children’s hearing rooms
media appearances throughout the campaign period (in prime time on ProTV, Prima TV and Digi24 news, over 250 items in the national press, over 200 appearances in the local press)
unique visitors had access to our campaign message