Project Title:

Developing forensic statement analysis standards to fight
CAE: A victim centered approach

Project Acronym:

VERBUM_SAT

Co-Funded/Granted by:

European Union/European Commission
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
Union actions

Type of action:

ISF-Police Action Grant

Call for Proposals:

ISFP-2017-AG-CYBER

Proposal Number:

821827

Beneficiary/Coordinator:
(name and country code)

FACULTY OF ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF LJUBLJANA (SI)

Co-beneficiaries/Consortium Members:
(name and country code)

- EUROPEAN FORENSIC AGENCY (RS)
- CHILD AND YOUTH PROTECTION CENTER OF ZAGREB (HR)
- MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, REPUBLIC OF SERBIA (RS)
- BRAVE PHONE (HR)

Starting Date:

1 April 2019

End date:

31 March 2021

Duration:

24 months

Total Project Costs:

641,861.97 EUR

Project maximum EU grant amount:

577.675,77 EUR

In the latest period, especially after ratifying the Istanbul Convention1 by majority of European countries, the focus of improvements of investigation procedures and capacities has turned to the area of crimes against vulnerable groups (female, children etc.), such as Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Child Abuse and Exploitation, Domestic Violence etc. Particularly, as one of the main issue concerning improvements, the proper treatment and protection of victims is recognized. One of the most common and very critical problem referring to victims, which needs to be minimized, is the issue of secondary and repeat victimization, which regularly takes place during standard criminal proceedings. The need for targeting and overriding this problem is emphasized by the EU “Victims’ Rights Directive”2.

In line with the above mentioned, a new approach in victim interviewing is starting to be developed and implemented, based on the imperative that the victim has to be interviewed only once during the whole procedure and not repeatedly, which is by rule the case in “traditional” procedures.

The aim of VERBUM_SAT Project is to develop a methodology for forensic analysis of written statement, establishing standards for cases of Child Abuse and Exploitation (CAE) relying on scientific, psycholinguistic basis. Forensic Statement Analysis methodology (FSA) is intended to be “victim centered”, i.e. to entirely fulfil above described requests, and to include other advantages useful for criminal procedure efficiency and human rights’ protection. By acquiring the victims’ statement in a written form, at the beginning of the process, victim gets protected from repeatedly questioning by different criminal justice and other bodies included in the procedure, minimizing the risk of secondary victimization i.e. multiple traumatization due to recall and reliving of the unpleasant event. The scientific, psycholinguistic methodology provides an extremely high level of accuracy in analyzing the truth of every segment of the statement, providing important information for the investigation and resolving one of the key dilemmas, already in the investigating phase of the process. At the same time, by using this type of analysis, real victims get protected, from the beginning, in a very subtle way, from open distrust frequently expressed by the investigating bodies, as well as accused persons, in case of false accusation. Beside above mentioned advantages, implementation of this methodology in the criminal procedure system, together with appropriate marketing, contributes to prevention of CAE and other related criminal acts (e.g. Sexual and Gender Based Violence – SGBV), because it discourages both perpetrators and false accusers.

During two years of Project execution, FSA methodology is going to be fully developed and its’ application standards scientifically adjusted to CAE cases, by a team of researchers of the Project Consortium, in a parallel and complementary process of theoretical and empirical research. In a synchronous and gradual procedure of research, adjustment and implementation of the methodology, Serbian Ministry of Interior will adopt a powerful, scientifically based investigation tool with high victim protection standards, which can be further applied to other European countries.

Since practical application of FSA is linguistic-dependent and since it is going to be parallel developed and practically implemented in Serbia and Croatia, it will be possible to use the methodology in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, as well. Further application to other countries needs adjustment, primarily on linguistic level.

1 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
2 Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime