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Video-Recorded investigative interview of child victims of sexual abuse: Fundamentals and technical guidance for its implementation

Video-Recorded investigative interview of child victims of sexual abuse: Fundamentals and technical guidance for its implementation

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Video-Recorded investigative interview of child victims of sexual abuse: Fundamentals and technical guidance for its implementation

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Jan 30, 2021


Video-recorded interviews consist of a technique that allows obtaining a greater amount of information and of a higher quality in regards to an alleged crime, optimizing the process of criminal investigation and seeking to affect as little as possible the child victims who have given their statement.

The beginning of the application in Chile of Act 21.057, which regulates video-recorded interviews and other means for safeguarding child victims of sexual abuse, motivated Fundación Amparo y Justicia and Ediciones UC to publish this second edition. The new version not only includes an update of the findings first published in 2016, but also a description of the changes that the aforementioned Act establishes and how they will impact the work of the officials of the Criminal Justice System.

This book seeks to provide answers and clarity in regards to the video-recorded investigative interview and other special measures, which are aimed at preventing the secondary victimization of children and asolescents during Judicial Declaration, where the new figure of the intermediary gains special relevance.

This revised edition will allow officials and authorities of the Justice System, students, academics, technical advisers and professionals from different areas, to find answers about a procedure that began to be carried out in Chile in October, 2019.
Jan 30, 2021

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Video-Recorded investigative interview of child victims of sexual abuse - Fundación Amparo y Justicia



Fundamentals and technical guidance for its implementation


Vicerrectoría de Comunicaciones

Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 390, Santiago, Chile




Fundación Amparo y Justicia




Fundación Amparo y Justicia

Technical Coordination

Catalina Fernández Cruzat


Maurizio Sovino Meléndez

Valentina Ulloa Jiménez


Karin Hein Molina


English UC Language Center

Proof reading

Valentina Rivera


We would like to thank all the people who collaborated on the first version of this book, which made this second edition possible. We want to especially recognize the work of the professional team of Fundación Amparo y Justicia, as well as the technical assistance provided in 2015 by Carolina Navarro Medel, Miguel Cillero Bruñol, Joanna Heskia Tornquist and retired British Sergeant Nick Quine. 

Digital design

ebooks Patagonia

www.ebookspatagonia.com | info@ebookspatagonia.com







I. The participation of child victims in criminal proceedings

1. Vulnerable victims and secondary victimization

2. The rights of child victims of crime

3. The experience of child victims of sexual abuse in the justice system


II. Testimony of child victims of sexual abuse

1. Specific issues related to sexual abuse

2. Findings in the study of child victims’ testimony



I. General aspects of the investigative interview

II. Differences between the investigative interview and other types of interviews

1. Expert evaluations

2. Taking of testimony

3. Clinical interviews

III. Benefits of the investigative interview

1. Benefits for criminal prosecution

2. Benefits for children / Regarding children and adolescents

3. Benefits for other participants in the criminal justice process

IV. Ideal time to conduct an investigative interview

V. Number of interviews

VI. Participants

1. People present in the interview room

2. Additional people who may be present in the interview room

3. People present in the observation room

VII. Stages of the interview process

1. Planning

2. Conducting the interview

3. Analysis


I. Infrastructure and technological equipment

1. General facilities

2. Waiting room

3. Interview planning room

4. Interview room

5. Infrastructure and technology models

II. Storage and custody of the video-recorded investigative interview

1. Storage of the recordings

2. Secure access to the recordings



I. Interviewer profile

1. Professional training

2. Gender

3. Personal skills

II. Interviewer training process

1. General characteristics of the training programs

2. Contents of the training courses

3. Key elements of effective training programs

II. Interview protocols

1. Investigative interview protocols

2. NICHD protocol



I. Comparative models on the use of video-recorded investigative interviews in trials

1. Using an investigative interview video recording to replace a child’s testimony

2. Using an investigative interview video recording to replace the direct examination of a child

3. Using an investigative interview video recording as additional evidence, different from testimonial statements of the child



I. Difficulties in the participation of children in court hearings

II. Protective measures for children’s testimonies

III. Intermediation

1. The intermediary and its functions

2. The process of intermediation

3. Advantages of intermediation

IV. Pre-trial hearings

1. Pre-trial hearings

2. Advantages of pre-trial hearings



I. Description of Act No. 21,057

II. Changes introduced by Act No. 21,05790

1. Complaint

2. Investigation

3. Court hearings

III. Other relevant aspects stipulated by the Act

1. Protective measures for children

2. Interviewer training and certification process




 In order to facilitate the reading of this text, we have used some terms and abbreviations, which are detailed below: 

The term children will be used to refer to persons under 18 years of age. Similarly, the term ‘‘child victims’’ is used to refer to either children and/or adolescents.

Law No. 21,057, which "regulates video-recorded interviews and other protective measures for minors who are victims of sexual abuse² , will also be referred to as the Video-Recorded Interviews Law".

Fundación Amparo y Justicia (Foundation Protection and Justice) is a Chilean non-profit organization that seeks to prevent child abuse and offer legal advice to those who have already suffered victimization.

Carabineros de Chile (Carabiniers of Chile) represent the national police force, while  Policía de Investigaciones – or PDI -  constitute the Investigations Police of Chile. These two bodies of police belong to the armed forces of Chile and are under the command the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security.

The acronyms CIFE, PFC (coined from Spanish) and VII will be used to refer to Initial Specialized Training Course, Continuing Education Program and Video-recorded Investigative Interview respectively.


It was an honor for me to be invited to write the foreword of the second edition of this book. Seeing the implementation of the Video-Recorded Interviews Act in Chile, and its potential to diminish the secondary victimization of children who have been exposed to serious crimes, has given me great satisfaction. I never thought I would have the opportunity to participate in such an important project and am grateful for having been able to contribute to this enormous effort made by so many people. 

The main objective of this Act is to ensure that child victims of sexual abuse and other serious crimes are treated in accordance with their particular needs and characteristics when they come into contact with the criminal justice system. Considering these factors helps to prevent additional harm beyond that initially caused by the offense. 

Until now, victims were forced to repeat their statements many times, which caused them to suffer. It made them question whether they were believed or not, and often led them to recant their statements. Imagine if we had to recount the precise details of our last sexual experience over and over again to several strangers! Something similar is what we demanded from children, who hardly had the maturity and vocabulary to be able to understand and describe what had happened to them against their will.

The video-recorded investigative interview is an internationally validated technique designed to collect more detailed and better-quality information during the child’s testimony, which might in turn avoid bias and contamination of the account. This higher-quality information can then be used to guide the investigation and subsequent ruling on the case more effectively. 

The successful implementation of Act No. 21,057 depends not only on the Act’s merits, but also on providing the necessary number of properly trained interviewers to conduct adequate interviews. For me, the most impressive aspect thus far has been the progress and effort made by the institutions and individuals involved to reach appropriate standards. However, further work is still needed, as academic research indicates that ongoing training is essential if the Act is to be maintained over time and achieve its objectives.

Of course, there are still challenges, but I am confident that they will be overcome, as I have witnessed an understanding of the necessity of this reform to one day achieve the full respect of children’s rights in Chile.

I recommend this book as a knowledge base for all those who wish to learn about this investigative proceeding, its foundations, and how it modifies the current criminal procedure in Chile. It will also be a useful tool for actors in the criminal justice system who wish to understand how their role will be affected by the application of this Act.

I wish you all success; all of your efforts will be worthwhile.

Nick Quine

Retired Sergeant, Avon and Somerset Police, United Kingdom

Video-recorded investigative interviewing teacher and teacher instructor


The implementation of the first stage of Act No. 21,057, which regulates video-recorded interviews and other protective measures for minors who are victims of sexual offenses, began on October 3, 2019. This public policy includes a series of measures and procedural changes designed to prevent secondary victimization of child victims of sexual and other serious offenses as they go through criminal proceedings. 

This is one of the most important reforms to the Chilean criminal justice system since the Criminal Procedure Reform of 2000. It implies a paradigm shift, through which a new and important step is taken to adapt criminal proceedings to children’s needs and characteristics, according to their age and maturity level. These adaptations ensure that children are effectively treated as persons with rights. In addition, the so-called Video-Recorded Interviews Act incorporates tools that make it possible to obtain more precise and reliable background information for the investigation and judicial definition of cases. 

Although concerns about improving the conditions under which children must face a judicial process have existed for a long time, they were confronted with both the difficulty involved in modifying the operation of the entire system and the cultural beliefs and prejudices rooted in institutional practices related to the treatment of children.  

In 2007, facing this scenario, and in compliance with its commitment to children’s rights, Fundación Amparo y Justicia promoted a joint effort between actors from public institutions, academia and civil society to raise awareness of this issue in Chile. 

For a decade, the foundation carried out multiple actions in order to advocate the need for the Video-Recorded Interviews Act. Between 2007 and 2015, it organized five international seminars¹ with investigative interview experts from both academia and foreign government institutions, including psychologists and scholars Martine Powell, Michael Lamb, David La Rooy and Tony Butler, judges and scholars Thomas Lyon and Carlos Rozanski, and retired Sergeant Nick Quine. These specialists helped convey the importance of the investigative interview both as a fundamental measure to prevent secondary victimization, as well as a technique that, by using standardized procedures, provides higher quality information to guide the investigation of crimes. 

Between 2008 and 2010, an Inter-Institutional Working Group was convened to discuss at length the measures needed to improve the existing procedures. This group was made up of representatives from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Judicial Branch, the Ministry of Justice, the Public Defender’s Office, the National Service for Minors (SENAME), Carabineros de Chile, Policía de Investigaciones, Chile’s Forensic Medical Service, the Ministry of Health and prominent scholars. Furthermore, in 2008, the MIDE UC Research Center at Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUC) was entrusted with a study that examined the Perceptions of the investigation and prosecution processes in cases of child sexual assault in the Metropolitan, Valparaíso and Bío Bío Regions (2009). The results of this research were conclusive in terms of the negative effects of multiple interrogations on child victims of sexual abuse. 

Against this backdrop, a second Inter-Institutional Working Group was convened in October 2011 to finalize the draft bill that would establish a video-recorded interview system for child victims of sexual abuse. The group was comprised of representatives from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, the Judicial Branch and Fundación Amparo y Justicia. After a year of work, with the advice of scholars from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law of the Universidad de Chile, a bill was drafted, which included its technical foundations, an implementation design and a study of associated costs. This material was then delivered to the Executive Branch in October 2012, which, after studies conducted to ensure its budgetary feasibility, presented the final bill to the Congress in January 2014.

This first milestone was also supported by the impact on public opinion that was generated by the social media campaign "No me pregunten más" (Ask Me No More), started by Fundación Amparo y Justicia in October 2013. Thanks to this campaign, more than 21,000 people signed a petition to get the Act passed, and dozens of public figures endorsed the initiative. 

The Video-Recorded Interviews Act was under consideration in the Congress for four years. During this period, there were public communication campaigns and citizen mobilization activities; also, technical evidence was provided for the discussion of the bill in the congressional committees. 

In 2014, aware that the prevention of secondary victimization did not depend solely on the adoption of this Act, Fundación Amparo y Justicia, in conjunction with PUC’s Faculty of Law, began teaching the international certificate course Los derechos de los niños, niñas y adolescentes víctimas de delitos sexuales y el sistema judicial ["The rights of child and adolescent victims of sexual abuse and the judicial system"]. This course raised awareness and enhanced the training of 459 justice system employees regarding the appropriate measures and ways of interacting with children. In addition, the first version of this book was launched in 2016 to provide the most up-to-date information on the investigative interview and the best practices for its application. 

At the end of 2016, a collaboration agreement was signed between Fundación Amparo y Justicia and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to implement the VII procedure in that institution. The following year, with the advice of retired Sergeant Nick Quine, an investigative interviewing training program was started for interviewers and instructors. This initiative was later joined by Carabineros de Chile, Policía de Investigaciones, the Judicial Branch and the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security. 

On January 20, 2018, Act No. 21,057 that regulates video-recorded interviews and other protective measures for minors who are victims of sexual abuse was enacted, evidencing the successful collaboration between the powers of the government, institutions of the justice system and organized civil society. 

The challenge of protecting the rights of children does not end with the approval and enactment of this Act. This is the reason why Fundación Amparo y Justicia is committed to continuing to contribute to its proper implementation through training, technical advice, dissemination and awareness-raising activities. In this context, since 2018, the foundation has participated in the Subcomisión Técnica de Implementación de la Ley Nº 21.057 (Technical Sub-Commission for the Implementation of Act No. 21,057), which was created by mandate of the Comisión de Coordinación del Sistema de Justicia Penal (Commission for the Coordination of the Criminal Justice System). This committee is coordinated by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and attended by representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, the Judicial Branch, the Public Defender’s Office, Carabineros de Chile and Policía de Investigaciones. 

Similar to the first version of this book, this edition describes recommendations and best practices based on national and international evidence. It is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter refers to the participation of child victims of sexual offenses in the criminal process, their rights and the complexities faced by the justice system in this regard. It also describes the main findings of the study of their testimonies. The second chapter deals with the investigative interview itself, explaining its definition, characteristics and benefits, as well as the specific elements needed to plan, carry out, and evaluate it. The third chapter addresses technological and infrastructural aspects that need to be considered for proper video-recorded investigative interviewing. The fourth chapter elaborates on the main findings and recommendations regarding the interviewer and their training process, as well as the protocols and best practices for conducting the investigative interview. The fifth chapter reviews different models that exist at the international level for the use of these video-recorded interviews in court hearings. Chapter six describes other safeguards for the taking of children’s testimony in the judicial process, including intermediation and early testimony. Finally, the last chapter describes the procedures included in Act No. 21,057, which regulates video-recorded interviews and other protective measures for minors who are victims of sexual abuse. It also provides an easy-to-understand summary of the Act’s provisions, its regulations and the protocols for inter-institutional action and coordination.  

The hope is that this second edition will continue to serve as a support and guide for the training of officials in the criminal justice system who must interact with children, as well as for anyone else who might be interested in studying this subject in greater depth.


I. The participation of child victims in criminal proceedings

1. Vulnerable victims and secondary victimization

Starting in the 20th century, on the eve of the birth and subsequent development of victimology, progress began to be made regarding the neutralization of victims in criminal proceedings. At the time, the State, the sole entity in charge of criminal prosecution, gave crime victims a marginal role in the process, focused only on reporting crimes

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