20 years later, how has the nursery rhyme evolved?
© Television Prod / France
Reconstruction of a child’s hearing in the documentary series “L’Affaire d’Outreau”, in France 2 (2023).
JUSTICE – Twenty years later, France Télévisions has chosen to return to Outreau Affairs, a legal scandal that transcended the news and continues to haunt our collective memory. In four episodes, the first two episodes air this Tuesday, January 17, France 2 retrace this incredible failure. HuffPost chose to question Outreau’s consequences for the collection of words of children who were victims of sexual violence.
You have to go back to 1uh December 2005. The Paris Court of Appeal renders the final acquittal in Outreau’s case. It took four years of proceedings and two trials to reach this conclusion: in total, twelve children were recognized as victims of sexual violence, four were found guilty, and thirteen people were released after spending three years in prison.
” What’s very tragic is that apart from adults who were wrongly accused and whose lives were ruined, there were children who were indeed victims.recalls Audrey Darsonville, professor of criminal law at the University of Paris Nanterre. Penal procedural reforms were introduced soon after, focused entirely on protecting the presumption of innocence. And not on the part of the children. »
“The accumulation of incompetent people”
Gilles Antonowicz, a lawyer who has written several books about the Outreau affair – most recently, Outreau, disaster storyreleased on January 11, 2023 – serving as a consultant for the series France 2. For him, ” the whole difficulty is to show that the children found nothing and at the same time, that this in no way affects the fact that those who were released were rightly so. »
Contrary to what many have heard, no” sacralization said children did not occur during the investigation into Outreau, according to the experts questioned. “ This is bullshitsupport Ernestine Ronai, member of the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence against Children (CIIVISE). There were and still are difficulties trusting children, that’s our problem. »
For the professionals interviewed, what led to the failure of the Outreau affair was above all else” accumulation of incompetent people”. “In practice, there are good and bad professionals. That’s the story said Gilles Antonowicz. If we count the number of times these kids have been heard, it’s annoying. That is banality, what am I saying, but failed man. »
The scene where all the children are called to the police station on the same day is realistically reconstructed in the documentary by France 2. ” The minors are in the police station and I don’t know how many people were calledsaid Audrey Darsonville. And every time someone enters the room, the kids say ‘he raped me too’. We can clearly see that there is no longer any meaning in anything. There is some kind of chain of errors that is quite glaring. And nothing stops. »
While the Outreau affair will have consequences with regard to the credibility of children’s voices among certain judges or members of the police, significant progress has been made over the last twenty years in how to collect and arrest them.
” The tipping point came about ten years ago, when we became interested in collecting the words of child victims, with many new procedures, in the police and gendarmerie.story of Audrey Darsonville. In legislative measures, progress has been made, such as recording the deposition of minors so there is no need to repeat the same words over and over again. »
For Gilles Antonowicz, video shooting was a significant step forward. ” This avoids repetition and most importantly, avoids letting a police officer or interrogating policeman make his or her personal interpretation of a child’s head nod, for example., he explained. Since October 2009, the special department’s family protection unit has received complaints from minors who were victims of sexual violence at certain police stations.
” At the local level, family protection groups have also been deployedexplained Sonia Fibleuil, spokeswoman for the national police. In small police stations, it is mandatory to have at least one family protection referral, who is specially trained to collect child voices. According to the spokesperson, there are now about 150 departmental units and family protection groups.
Video recording and “Melanie’s Room”
Some professionals, particularly law enforcement, are trained in “ NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) hearing protocol”, made in the United States and imported from Canada. ” It is very well studied to promote children’s speechunderlined Ernestine Ronai, from CIIVISE. There is also a special room for collecting these speeches. »
Since 1998 from Melanie’s Room “, inspired by Quebec, thus created to facilitate the vetting of underage victims. They are specially furnished and consist of furniture, toys and educational materials to facilitate a child’s comfort, confidence and expression.
As of 2020, there are about thirty. Since the 2021-2022 financing plan, an additional thirty rooms have been created. ” There are no ‘Mélanie rooms’ anywhere: for example, in the Seine-Saint-Denis, there are noregretted Ernestine Ronai, from CIIVISE. We can clearly see that there is still progress to be made. But there is an awareness of the fact that in order to collect children’s words, one must be specialized and trained. »
Uthere are no real societal expectations on the matter »
There are other areas of progress. ” There should be more trained police and police and there should be treatment for children suffering from psychotrauma, so that they are heard, protected and cared for. Claimed Ernestine Ronai.
An observation that was also made by law professor Audrey Darsonville. ” But movements like #MeTooIncest really help consider this question by professionals, he believes. It raises awareness of the systemic scale of the reality of sexual violence. As for incest, it’s pretty new. »
“There are real societal expectations about this issue, which we, as a public service, have an obligation to respond to”, confirmed Sonia Fibleuil, spokeswoman for the national police. “You must have the human resources to respond to all requests, to ask the right questions, to fully understand the answers and most importantly not to misinterpret what is being said to you, summarizes Gilles Antonowicz. Then just be mindful for those who want to be mindful. »
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