New rights for victims of crime in Europe - The future
Until people are aware of their rights and freedoms as Europeans and of the benefits they get from the EU in being able to live, work and travel in safety anywhere in the EU, the European Union will remain a somewhat vague and distant concept for many individuals.
European Commission (18)
The Council of Ministers is the European Union's main decision-making body. It is the embodiment of the Member States, whose representatives it brings together regularly at Ministerial level. The Council uses the following instruments: joint positions, framework decisions and conventions. Framework decisions have the force in law within Member States, who are bound to achieving the final results set out. Unlike joint positions, framework decisions are binding only in so far as the result to be achieved, but the choice of form and methods is left to national authorities. Formal assessments of compliance do take place, and individuals have the opportunity to take action for damages against a state which makes no effort to comply with a framework decision. But for the average holidaymaker this is not a realistic process.
Most of the provisions in the Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings came into place on 22 March 2019. But its full range of protection will not be available for another four years. The measures to minimise communication difficulties and providing access to free legal advice will not come into force until March 2004. The promotion of mediation waits until 2006.
We know that only a minority of cases ever progress through systems of criminal justice. Often offences are not reported or offenders are not detected. In its guiding principles the Framework Decision states that its provisions are not confined to criminal proceedings, but it does not expand upon this. Attention, and resources, will need to be focused on victims' needs in the community. The promotion of national victims' organisations will go a long way towards achieving this, but on their own specialist agencies cannot meet all victims' needs or prevent secondary victimisation. All the agencies that come into contact with victims of crime will need to play their role.
Action is needed on three fronts:
- to ensure effective implementation of the provisions in the Framework Decision: both to fill gaps in the UK and Ireland and across Europe
- to secure common standards for state compensation provision across the European Union
- to formulate effective policies on social rights for victims of crime.
- more funds are needed to assist the development of national victims' organisations throughout Europe
- the European Forum for Victim Services needs permanent EU funding to enable it to promote victims' rights and services across Europe and to facilitate the exchange of information and experience between victims' organisations
- funding must be made available to Victim Support in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland - to consolidate the services already in place, to enable the spread of best practice and to develop specialist services.
- the provisions in the Framework Decision must be publicised and understood
- all those who come into contact with victims of crime must know what their rights are and have an awareness of the effects of crime.