After the investigation initiated over a public release of details about a minor - victim of sexual intercourse, the Protector of Citizens requested the Ministry of Justice to amend the Court Rules of Procedure in order for it not to allow for the delivery of the information to the public that directly or indirectly make the child’s identity recognizable, particularly when dealing with children victims of criminal acts.
In the Opinion issued to the Ministry of Justice, the Protector of Citizens states that the information provided to the public regarding court proceedings with children participants should not contain information that may jeopardize the guaranteed rights or freedoms of the child or information the publication of which is not in line with child’s best interest.
The Protector of Citizens emphasizes that children’s right to protection from all forms of violence and protection of privacy, as well as the right of a child victim of violence to recovery and reintegration, includes the competent state bodies’ commitment to be highly cautious when publishing information on violence against children.
In this particular case, this commitment would have been met if the courts, when informing the public about the courts’ work, had not published personal data about the child, victim of crime, or any other data that could make the child recognizable and expose him/her to additional trauma, the Protector of Citizens has emphasized.
In September 2020, the Protector of Citizens initiated own-initiative investigation to control the Ministry of Justice, upon learning that the media published the details of the verdict for sexual intercourse with the child taken from the press release by the High Court in Novi Sad, with a request to monitor the work of that court administration.
The High Court in Novi Sad President declared in a statement requested by the relevant ministry that the mentioned press release had been posted precisely to protect the injured child, as well as all potential juvenile victims of criminal acts that jeopardize sexual freedom, by sending a clear message about stiff penalties for all those who violated the rights of the child in the most severe way.
Nevertheless, the Protector of Citizens believes that the statement did not fully protect the child's identity as it contained data from the child's family life, and described the acts of committing crimes exposing in that way the minor, a victim of violence, to secondary victimization because the statement was published in the media.
For these reasons, the Protector of Citizens considers that it is necessary for the Ministry of Justice to amend the provisions of the current Court Rules of Procedure.