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EU sets minimum standards for helping crime victims across the EU


21 Jun 2012


Justice & Home Affairs

Being a victim of crime is a traumatic experience. For victims of crime whilst abroad for business or holidays the trauma is compounded by language difficulties, lack of knowledge about the foreign justice system and cultural barriers which create obstacles to obtaining adequate support and protection. New European guidelines will soon make sure that victims of crime throughout the European Union will get the same minimum standards on their rights, support and protection, including the obligation for Member States to provide information to victims in a language they understand, while identifying and recognizing their specific needs based on personal characteristics, like gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, religion or age.

Antonyia Parvanova (NMSP, Bulgaria), Parliament's rapporteur for the Victims Package in the Womens' Rights Committee welcomes the new rules agreed upon last night by both European Parliament and Council negotiators: "The agreement is an important step forward for securing the rights of victims in the European Union and will definitely contribute to better protection for all. The European Parliament has significantly contributed to strengthening procedural rights for all victims across the EU and in ensuring minimum standards across the EU for the protection and support provided to victims. We have been successfully arguing for stronger provisions and guarantees relating to the right to receive information, the right to interpretation and translation, as well as the type of support services victims should receive. It is essential that every victim will now be individually assessed, in order to identify specific protection needs, thus ensuring that they receive adequate and appropriate support. “

Tens of millions people travel annually to another EU country for tourism. Setting the same minimum standards across the EU is therefore not superfluous. An estimated 15 % per cent of the population fall victim to crime somewhere in the European Union each year, equating to nearly 75 million people.

“With this horizontal instrument applicable in all Member States, the EU is delivering for its citizens. When it comes to victims particularly exposed to secondary and repeat victimisation, such as children, victims of gender-based violence or victims of organised crime, the new rules close existing loopholes.  Responding adequately to victims' needs, irrespective of the crime suffered and regardless of where they live or come from, is a major improvement that will definitely benefit both EU-citizens and national judicial systems.”

Nathalie Griesbeck (Mouvement Démocrate, France), ALDE spokesperson in the Civil Liberties Committee, comments: "For the first time we are actually looking at victims: victims have rights, they are vulnerable and need protection. With this agreement, minimum standards for their protection are finally set taking into account their specific needs. Indeed there is no one size fits all approach for protecting victims. I have been emphazing the importance of giving special consideration for children. In the new rules the number of hearings including children will be kept to an absolute minimum, be conducted by trained professionals and in appropriate surroundings".

The agreement applies to all victims irrespective of the type of crime, such as racism, harassment, trafficking or theft. The guidelines do not replace national law, but do provide a minimum standard that national laws should at least meet.

For more information, please contact:
Corlett Neil - Tel:+32 2 284 20 77 Mob:+32 478 78 22 84
van der Steen Elzelien - Tel:+32-2-284 26 23 Mob:+32-477-45 42 84


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