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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 21 February 2014

European Day for victims of crime: Commission takes action to make improved victims’ rights a reality

Ahead of tomorrow’s European Day for victims of crime (22 February), the European Commission is taking action to make sure that victims of crime can rely on their rights under EU law in practice. The landmark new rules on minimum rights for victims' across the EU (Directive 2012/29/EU) were adopted on 25 October 2012. The law guarantees minimum rights for victims wherever they are in the EU, including proper support, information and protection (IP/12/1066). The EU’s Member States have until 16 November 2015 to implement the European provisions in their national laws, and the Commission has today issued guidance to assist them in this process. The guidance document was prepared by the Commission's Directorate General for Justice together with victim support organisations and national authorities. It clarifies the provisions of the victims’ rights directive, helping to make the rights it lays down a reality everywhere in the EU.

"The victims’ rights directive is an important new piece of European law and one of which our Union can be most proud," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "With 75 million people falling victim to crime across the European Union every year, the improved rights we have agreed in EU law will make sure each and every one is entitled to improved protection, information and support. The victim must not be forgotten but should be treated justly. Citizens who have fallen victim to a crime deserve nothing less."

On the occasion of the European Day for victims of crime, Vice-President Reding also sent a letter to national Ministers reminding them of the importance of a timely transposition of the European rules: "The EU victims' rights directive must not become a dead letter: the measure agreed at EU level should be translated into national law to be operational and fully available to victims by the transposition deadline on 16 November 2015," Vice-President Reding states in her letter.

The guidance issued today – of which Vice-President Reding informed national Ministers in her letter – includes clarification on what various rights included in the directive mean in practice. For example, the right to information means victims should receive information about their rights from the first contact with the police or courts. Member States should therefore ensure that police, prosecution, judiciary, social services and support services cooperate closely to ensure an updated flow of information for victims, for example using electronic systems.

The Commission is also holding a workshop with experts in Brussels on 28 March 2014 to further assist EU countries with the timely and correct implementation of the victims' rights' directive.

Minimum rules for victims are part of the EU's broader objective to build a European area of justice, so that people can rely on a set of basic rights and can have confidence in the justice system wherever they are in the EU. To help protect victims of violence from any further harm by their attacker, a Regulation on mutual recognition of civil law protection measures was adopted in June 2013 (IP/13/510).

Example of how the Directive will improve the situation for crime victims:

While holidaying in another Member State, Valérie was violently attacked and robbed. At the police station, she receives information on her rights in her language and an interpreter is called so that she can make her statement in her mother tongue. She receives a translated, written acknowledgment of her complaint and is informed about the next steps. She is also referred to a specialised victim support organisation. Once back in her country, the authorities in the Member State where she was assaulted keep her informed about all the stages of the criminal proceedings. She testifies and eventually the offender is convicted. As of the end of 2015, these safeguards will apply throughout the EU.

Background

The EU directive on minimum standards for victims was tabled by the Commission in May 2011 (IP/11/585 and MEMO/11/310). It was adopted on 4 October 2012 by the Council of the EU (IP/12/1066) following a plenary vote in the European Parliament (MEMO/12/659). This came after the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement in June 2012 following intense negotiations mediated by the European Commission.

The EU Directive on minimum standards for victims will ensure that across the EU:

  • victims are treated with respect and police, prosecutors and judges are trained to properly deal with them;

  • victims get information on their rights and their case in a way they understand;

  • victim support exists in every Member State;

  • victims can participate in proceedings if they want and are helped to attend the trial;

  • vulnerable victims are identified – such as children, victims of rape, or those with disabilities – and are properly protected;

  • victims are protected while police investigate the crime and during court proceedings.

For more information

Guidance to Member States on the victims’ rights directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/files/victims/guidance_victims_rights_directive_en.pdf

European Commission – victims' rights:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/victims/index_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU

Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


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