Accountability and Victims Rights
The European Union has implemented a wide package of legal, social and economic measures in support of victims, based on the protection of individual rights across all 28 Member States of the EU.
The European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis engaged in a broad range of stakeholders including with civil society representatives, EU institutions, EU Member States and partner countries to propose the scope to the initiative and identify countries and good practises which could be included in the initial phase of the initiative. For more than 18 months prior to the formal launch, he conducted a programme of successful outreaches and high-level engagement with the partner countries which are members of the initial group of members.
“At a time of challenge for the global human rights architecture, the European Unionhas supported the formation of this alliance”, said EUSR Lambrinidis. “We are now actively working to identify cross fertilisation of the good practises nationally, regionally and globally, including where the initiative can grow and maximise impact.”
The Good Human Rights Story from the European Union highlights the improvements made for people who are victims of crime and how their lives changed for the better since the EU adopted a law three years ago which better defends their rights. It also features those who assist victims to overcome their trauma, exercise their rights and find the help and treatment they need.
Can you imagine a child having to address a packed courtroom when he or she is too scared to even talk about the crime? Think about those who, because of their past experience, have little trust in the police or in the authorities, and are therefore unable to ask for support? Or think of those very few women who have plucked up the courage to report violence against them? What about the victims of hate crime who do not feel able to report at all the violence they suffer from?
EU law stands by these people and grants them rights which go a long way towards meeting those needs. For example, all EU Member States are now required to ensure that:
- Information about their rights is made available to victims;
- National victim support organisations are established and that they should be free and that confidentiality is guaranteed;
- Victims are able to participate in criminal proceedings and they are supported in this through:
- interpretation and translation;
- protection measures to reduce the burden of the proceedings on them and ensure their safety;
- and the right to compensation;
Not only should victims have access to these rights, but governments should ensure that the police, prosecutors, judges and victim support organisations are properly trained to treat victims in a professional and respectful manner.
Now, three years after the entry into force of this EU law, concrete examples can be showcased of how this legal act has changed peoples’ lives.
Hear a personal story of Raquel about her work as psychologist for the Portuguese association APAV and how providing this type of support can make a difference.
Meet Yasmine, an LGBTI victim of assaults in the Brussels streets.
Hear the story of Robbie who has a learning disability and who was attacked by local residents.
Listen to the the testimony of Eve, working for the Irish child support centre Cari who has set up Europe’s first courthouse dogs’ service for children in criminal proceedings.
While Victims’ stories are not always seen as success stories in themselves, it is clear from the examples we have shown that the strengthening of victims’ rights can play a big part in empowering victims.