What is the project ?

The European Union - Council of Europe Joint Project “Barnahus in Spain – Strengthening child-friendly justice through effective co-operation and coordination among different Barnahus-type services in the regions of Spain” aims to ensure that all children who are victims of violence, including sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, benefit from a child-friendly access to justice and from strengthened and timely child protection services in Spain and its regions (Autonomous Communities).

On 4th June 2021, Spain approved the Organic Law 8/2021 on the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescences against Violence (a summary in English is available here). This law (LOPIVI for its Spanish acronym) is unique in Europe for its comprehensive and holistic approach to protection, which encompasses awareness raising, prevention, early detection and reparation and places great importance on capacity building for professionals working with and for children, as well as child participation. The EU/CoE Joint Project Barnahus in Spain will go hand in hand with the practical implementation of the LOPIVI and its subsequent Strategy and will contribute in particular to the introduction and development of the Barnahus model in three different regions of Spain (pilot regions, to be selected by October 2022).

In close cooperation with the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 this will be achieved through a series of activities to be developed during the period of 2022-2024 and aimed at improving relevant policies and tools to introduce the Barnahus model in the selected pilot regions and strengthen the capacity of relevant professionals working for and with children to support the introduction and the implementation of the Barnahus model at regional level.

The project is co-funded by the European Union via the Technical Support Instrument, and implemented by the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the European Commission, over 24 months (6 July 2022- 5 July 2024) in Spain. You may visit DG REFORM's dedicated webpage on the project.  

 Project news

 What is Barnahus?

Barnahus (Children’s House) is a child-friendly, multidisciplinary and interagency response model for the coordination of criminal and child welfare investigations in cases of violence against children, including child sexual abuse. 

It brings under one roof all relevant professionals (the judge, the prosecutor, the police, social workers and medical professionals such as psychologists, forensic doctors) in a safe environment for children, with the purpose of providing a coordinated and effective response and for preventing re-traumatisation during investigation and court proceedings. The Barnahus model puts the best interest of the child at the heart of investigative procedures, while taking into account that the child’s disclosure is key to identify and investigate violence against children both for criminal and for protective and therapeutic purposes.

Originally developed by the National Children’s Advocacy Centre in the United States, the model was introduced and adapted to the European context by Iceland in 1998. The model was recognised in 2015 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 (Lanzarote Committee). It has been already replicated in Sweden and Norway and is in the process of being adapted in more than a dozen of other European countries. Apart from this project in Spain, the Council of Europe Children’s Rights Division has supported the Republic of Slovenia in establishing and operating their first Barnahus and is currently implementing a project in Finland.

 What do we want to achieve?

 What are the project's main deliverables?

 Who do we work with?

The participation of representatives of the relevant bodies and institutions is foreseen. Civil society organisations, Ombudspersons and academia will also be involved in Protect activities to identify existing shortcomings of the justice system for children victims of violence in Spain in light of existing needs to formulate concrete potential solutions.

  • Ministry of Health
  • Representatives of relevant regions (Entidades Públicas de Protección de Menores de las Comunidades Autónomas)

 Who will benefit from the Project?

The project targets Spanish national, regional and local authorities, as well as professionals in contact with children and/or dealing with cases of violence against children, including child sexual abuse. They will benefit directly from the project through training and capacity building measures provided.

The final beneficiaries of the project are children at risk of or victims and/or witnesses of any type of violence, including sexual abuse. Children will eventually benefit from improved access to justice, more effective state response and more child-centred and child-friendly practices during the processing and management of cases of violence against children.

The Spanish society as a whole will ultimately benefit from the project with the wider public reached through awareness raising and promotional activities. The project will contribute towards a more aware society that is capable of identifying, preventing and responding to violence against children, including sexual abuse, a crime which has long-term consequences not only for the child victims and survivors of sexual violence and their families, but also for the society as a whole.

Project documents

 Video on the Icelandic Barnahus model

Watch long and short version of the video

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