Implementing the BARNAHUS model in Croatia

Ministry of Justice and Public Administration 

Project objective: 
Barnahus (Children’s House) is the leading European model of protecting the rights and interests of child victims and children witnesses of violence or abuse.
This unique approach brings together all relevant services under one roof to avoid re-victimisation of the child during investigation and judicial proceedings, to ensure a coordinated and effective response to violence experienced by the child, and to provide support and assistance to the child, including medical assessment and treatment, in a child-friendly environment.
The Barnahus model includes a multidisciplinary and interagency approach, ensuring cooperation between different agencies (judicial, social welfare, medical) in a child-friendly institution that offers complete services for children and families under one roof. The basis of the Barnahus model is the assumption that the disclosure of information by a child is essential both for identifying and investigating child abuse for criminal, protective and therapeutic purposes.

Purpose of the project:
In 2015, the Barnahus model was recognised as a promising practice by the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (the Lanzarote Committee).
The model has been replicated in Finland, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden, and is in the process of adaptation in over a dozen other European countries.
Croatia has been a party to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (the Lanzarote Convention) since 2011.
Protecting children from violence, including sexual abuse, is one of the objectives of the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027).
The implementation of the Project contributes to the ongoing reform of the protection of children’s rights in Croatia.
The expected long-term impact of this project is the improved quality of judicial services for child victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by strengthening the capacity of competent authorities and experts to respond to cases of child sexual abuse and more effective state coordination to deal with such crimes in a child-friendly manner in Croatia.
Target groups:
Competent authorities and professionals who are in daily contact with children and/or dealing with child sexual abuse cases. The above mentioned stakeholders/target groups will benefit directly from the Project through reports, analyses and tools on how to implement the Barnahus model in Croatia, as well as capacity building activities. The project focuses in particular on legal and non-legal professionals, such as social service professionals, forensic interview experts and health professionals.

Project beneficiaries:
Children at risk, victims and/or witnesses of any kind of violence, including physical and sexual abuse.
Over time, children will benefit from improved access to justice, a more effective state response and child-oriented and child-friendly practices during the prosecution and management of violence against children, including cases of child sexual and physical abuse.
The project is funded under the Technical Support Instrument, in cooperation with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG Reform). 

Implementation period: 1 September 2023 - 1 March 2026 (30 months) 
Contact persons: 
Ana Kordej,
Daška Leppe Pažanin,