Eurojust deals with serious crimes concerning two or more Member States, particularly when the crimes are organised. If, in a specific case, there is an essential interest in cooperation, it is possible for Eurojust to assist even when the case does not concern organised crime or is not within its ordinary mandate (Articles 3 and 4 of the Eurojust Decision). When a serious crime against a child or children has been committed, there is often an essential interest for Eurojust to cooperate.
Since its establishment, Eurojust has played an active role in fighting criminality related to children, even when those crimes appear not to be perpetrated in an organised way.
When dealing with a case that concerns children, Eurojust shall employ the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (2007). Additionally, in the field of child protection, Europol and Interpol are among the most important bodies with which Eurojust can co-operate. A particularly important tool in this respect is the Interpol list of missing children.
Child protection and related matters also arise when children are witnesses in an investigation or in a trial. In this regard, it is important to state that both witnesses and victims are indispensable components of the justice system; the information that both groups can provide to an investigation often constitutes the foundation for criminal prosecutions; therefore, children are particularly vulnerable and it is essential to protect them from threats, violence or any other forms of intimidation, especially when related to organised crime or other serious forms of criminality.
Bearing in mind the importance of these matters, child protection was one of the main topics discussed during the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers that took place in Lisbon on 1 and 2 October 2007 under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU. The Belgian Minister of Justice proposed that Eurojust should appoint a Eurojust National Member to be the contact point for child protection on matters such as missing children, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in children and child pornography.1
The parties involved in the meeting discussed a number of other possible actions, with special emphasis given to a proposal to set up both a European cell for missing children based on existing structures and a register of missing children.
As a result, a Contact Point for Child Protection Issues was appointed at Eurojust. Daniela Buruiană, National Member for Romania, is the current Contact Point for Child Protection; Ms Ivanka Kotorova, Deputy to the National member for Bulgaria, is the deputy Contact Point for Child Protection.
The Contact Point has been assigned the following tasks:
- To represent Eurojust in child protection and related matters as contact point and to ensure that Eurojust has access to best practice in the field;
- To follow the work of national authorities, law enforcement organisations and other bodies in the field of child protection;
- To advise other National Members on possible tools and handling measures to use in their casework when dealing with investigations concerning children, such as witness/victim protection and Interpol’s database on missing children;
- To maintain a constant and updated statistical overview of all the cases dealt with in Eurojust related to the topic;
- To provide support to National Desks at Eurojust on the classification of the different types of criminality related to children.
Eurojust, through the Contact Point for Child Protection, is a member of the “European Financial Coalition against the sexual exploitation of children online” since 2009.
1 Parental child abduction cases are often solved bilaterally; Eurojust does not normally take action.
Issue 5 of Eurojust News
looks at aspects of Eurojust’s contribution to the European Union’s fight against child abuse. View/download this newsletter
(PDF, 4.6 MB)