Policies to prevent and address any incidence of child abuse, mistreatment or violence against minors have made possible the organization of a comprehensive prevention and protection structure
In Cuba the political will exists to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against children, with all the guarantees of due process, stated Colonel Idays Borges Barrios, head of Attention to Minors at the Ministry of the Interior.
These established policies to prevent and address any incidence of child abuse, mistreatment or violence against minors have made possible the organization of a comprehensive prevention and protection structure.
This system includes three Protection Centers for Children and Adolescents across the country, in Havana, Villa Clara and Santiago de Cuba, devoted to the task of preventing or reducing the victimization of minors, who are vulnerable to the violation of their rights.
These centers are implementing a strategy to prevent sexual abuse of children, with the goal of stopping such crimes in places with the highest incidence, providing social and institutional actors with tools to prevent these events, eliminate the causes that generate them and raise risk perception.
“We have social and scientific research that tells us that, over the last ten years, the perception of risk has increased, and we know this based on the cases that come to us,” Colonel Borges stated.
When faced with a case involving a minor victim of a crime, our centers follow a methodology which includes a single interview conducted with the child. The testimony is recorded to be presented at the oral trial.
Designed in four stages, this methodology includes reception of the case, at which time a specialist provides information about the center; the preparatory stage, in which a psychologist determines if the minor is fit to participate in an exploratory interview; and the attention to the family stage, in which the minor’s legal guardians are interviewed to learn about the family environment and the events under investigation.
The next step is planning the investigation strategy, when specialists, the lead officer investigating the case and the family meet and coordinate. Finally, the interview with the minor is conducted. At this time, a specialized interviewer establishes communication with the child, who recounts what happened.
After the interview, the psychologist accompanies the victim and legal guardians in the process of relaxing tensions and ensuring that the child feels no guilt, while agreeing to next steps and follow-up in a mental health center and at school, among other possible options.
The support provided by these institutions allows for the gathering of evidence which will be useful during criminal prosecution of perpetrators, without the presence of minors in oral trials.