For Parents

Which laws are relevant for child victims or witnesses of violence?

Violence can be defined as „all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while the child is in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of child”.[1]

A wide range of laws can have an impact on child victims and witnesses of violence. The rights of child witnesses of crimes are sometimes explicitly addressed alongside those of child victims. To date, international and EU legislation focusing on criminal proceedings has mainly concentrated on child witnesses who are also victims. Many principles that derive from children’s rights will apply both child victims and witnesses.

Among the laws that aimed at respecting children’s rights is Law 51 of 3 March 2023 for amending and supplementing Law no 135/2010 on the Code of Criminal Procedure. According to this law, the hearing of a minor victim or witness of violence, up to age of 14 will only take place in the presence of legal representatives and in the presence of psychologist. The new of this law is that the prosecuting authority is obliged to appoint a psychologist to attend the hearing of the minor in order to provide emotional support and “expert counselling throughout the legal proceedings”.[2]

Another equally important piece of legislation is Law 272/2004 on the protection and promoting children’s rights. Law no 272/2004 lays down the general principles to be applied in respecting and guaranteeing the rights of child, and thus also the rights of child victims of crimes, insofar they are relevant. These principles are: a) respect for and promotion of the best interest of the child; b) equality of opportunity and non-discrimination; c) empowerment of parents with regard to the exercise of parental rights and the fulfilment of parental duties; e) decentralisation of child protection services, multisectoral intervention and partnership between public institution and accredited private providers; f) ensuring individualised and personalised care for each child; g) respecting the child’s dignity; h) listening child’s views and taking them into account, taking into account the child’s age and maturity; i) ensuring stability and continuity in the care, upbringing and education of the child, taking into account the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background, when a protection measure is taken; j) speed in taking any decision concerning the child; k) ensuring protection against abuse, neglect, exploitation and any other form of violence against the child; l) interpreting each legal norm relating to the rights of the child in relation to all regulations in this filed.[3]

There is also a number of international documents such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948, The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse*) Lanzarote, 25 October 2007, all of which create the international legal framework for protection of minors.

A collective view of the various sources of relevant legislation guidelines helps to create a comprehensive approach to the rights and needs of these children. It supports legal and social professionals in developing a better understanding of each other’s roles and obligations, which is an essential step in ensuring effective multidisciplinary and inter-agency working.

The main relevant tools to criminal justice and child protection in relation to child victims and witnesses of violence include:

  • criminal justice measures concerning victims and witnesses during criminal investigations and proceedings;
  • measures on victims’ rights, including provisions on informing, support and assistance for victims and access to compensations;
  • measures concerning the rights of particular groups of victims, including victims of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and victims of trafficking in human beings;
  • general measures on the rights of the child, including the application of general principles such as the best interest of the child and the rights of the child to be heard;
  • child-friendly justice measures, including measures on access to justice and participation in proceedings;
  • child protection measures, which address the identification of and response to violence against children, in particular how to ensure an integrated child protection response from different agencies;
  • Measures that address the protection needs of specific children, including children with disabilities;
  • Measures addressing the role and obligations of professionals when working with child victims and witnesses of violence;
  • Measures to protect the privacy of those involved in the proceedings, as well as data protection measures concerning confidentiality of their personal data;
  • Measures addressing specific types of crimes, such as cybercrime or specific aspects of crime in criminal proceedings, such as asset forfeiture;
  • Measure addressing cooperation between law enforcement and judicial authorities across Europe, EU and internationally. [4]



[1] O’Donnell, Rebecca, 2017, „PROMISE Compendium of Law and Guidance. European and International Instruments concerning Child Victims and Witnesses of Violence”. Link:

[2] Law no. 51 of 3 march2023 for amending and supplementing Law no. 135/2010 on the Code of Criminal Proceedings.

[3] Law no 272/2004 on the protection and promoting children’s rights.

[4] O’Donnell, Rebecca, 2017, „PROMISE Compendium of Law and Guidance. European and International Instruments concerning Child Victims and Witnesses of Violence”. Link: