Network of Support and Cooperation for Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences
To extend the victim and witness support system and ensure support to citizens across Croatia, the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration initiated the establishment and financing of a partnership network of civil society organisations which provide support and assistance to victims and witnesses in the counties in which there is no victim and witness support department.
The activities of the civil society organisations involved in the Network of Support and Cooperation for Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences are financed from the lottery revenues on the basis of a public call conducted by the Ministry of Justice. In the first cycle of the three-year programme, covering the period 1/1/2018 - 31/12/2020, 10 organisations were selected to be part of the Network, to provide services in the 13 counties in which there is no victim and witness support department. The second public call for financing the programme was conducted by the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration in 2020, for the three-year period 1/1/2021 - 31/12/2023. The Network currently covers 17 counties – those without a court department for victim and witness support as well as some counties where the court departments already exist.
The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration continues to support further development and financing of the Network.
The coordinator of the Network is Women's Room - Sexual Rights Centre.
Civil society organisations involved in the programme of the Network of Support and Cooperation for Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences provide the following services for victims and witnesses:
- emotional and practical support, technical and practical information and information on their rights;
- psychological and legal counselling (at the premises of the organisation or other adequate location) to victims who have reported a crime or misdemeanour and those who have not; the support is available by telephone, email or in person;
- accompaniment to the court and support at info desks within court premises;
- accompaniment to competent institutions (police, state attorney’s office, regional office of the Institute for Social Work, etc.) on the territory of the CSO’s seat and in other locations during the opening hours of the institutions;
- phone counselling Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Another important activity of the organisations is to raise public awareness about victims' rights and the victim and witness support system in Croatia (leaflets, brochures, posters, media/promotional activities) and cooperation with the competent authorities.
At the beginning of the programme, all the staff and volunteers of the civil society organisations included in the programme completed a three-day basic training as well as an additional two-day training to increase their levels of knowledge, skills and competences for assistance and support to victims and witnesses. To sensitise and inform the public about the victim and witness support system in Croatia, leaflets were produced and a media campaign organised, along with round tables and other promotional activities.
The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration continuously supervises the activities of the partner organisations in the Network and provides them with professional guidance and advice.