Sunday 22 February marks European Day for Victims of Crime. A day to remember those who have suffered at the hands of criminals – many millions every year –children and adults, women and men, poor and wealthy, residents and visitors to the EU.
It is a day to recognise the plight of victims everywhere and to give voice to their needs.
Across Europe and the world, reports of crimes against victims – whether they relate to terrorism, abuse, domestic violence, hate crime, human trafficking, robbery or any other crime, are a stark reminder of how unpredictable crime can be.
Our thoughts are with all those who have been victimised, whether or not the crime is reported in the media, whether it is reported or not to the police or to other organisations. Even if you have never told anyone about the crime, you are not alone, and our thoughts are with you.
We know that in many countries victim support services are able to respond immediately to help victims. Such a timely response is essential. On this occasion, we would like to thank all those who stand ready to help victims - the staff and volunteers of victim support organisations, specialised bodies, individual professionals and many more, for their extraordinary efforts.
Your dedication gives victims an essential line to help them recover and to overcome the hardships they face. We also thank Victims of Crime International (VOCI) and the US National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) for their expressed support.
Yet we must recognise that victim support is not always available in every country in Europe, nor around the world. Not every State has well established, well-funded, national victim support organisations which provide victims with the support they need. Nor is every victim entitled to access victim support services even when they are available. Unfortunately, there is often still a large gap between victims’ rights on paper and their rights in practice.
In 2015, this cannot continue to be the case. Every Member State of the European Union has made a clear commitment to establishing victim support services – both generic and specialised, to establishing full and effective rights for victims of crime, and to implementing the EU Directive on Victims’ rights by November of this year (with the exception of Denmark).
Today, we call on those Member States to live up to this and other commitments to victims. We call on them and on States around the world to continue to strive to improve the situation of victims.
All victims of crime, no matter what crime, no matter where it took place, no matter who the victim is, where they come from or the reasons for their victimisation, should be treated with respect and dignity. They should be supported in the immediate aftermath of the crime and for as long as is necessary afterwards.
Law enforcement and justice systems must work tirelessly, not only to find, prosecute and punish the criminals, but also to safeguard each and every individual victim involved in that process. The system should not cause more harm or suffering to victims and it should not impose unnecessary burdens and costs.
Our national systems must treat each victim as an individual. The needs of one group of victims are not the same as for another. The needs of one person are not the same as for another. Nor can the response be identical for each person. The reasons for the crime will vary, the social, cultural and personal background of individuals will change the impact of the crime, the dangers the victim may face, the likelihood they are re-victimised and the help that victim will need.
An effective and humane response to victimisation must take all this into account. It must co-ordinate the action of justice and law enforcement agencies, of educational establishments and health services, of social care systems and local authorities, to ensure that the response to victimisation is a social response, just as crime is an attack on society as a whole as well as the individual.
The Conference Victims of Crime in Europe: the future is now!, a commemorative event of APAV’s 25th Anniversary and the 25th Annual Conference of Victim Support Europe, will be held in Lisbon, on the 13th and 14th of May 2015, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
APAV and Victim Support Europe invite you to guarantee your presence and come join the discussion on the development of the rights of victims over the past 25 years and the challenges and best practices in the implementation of the rights of crime victims in the European Union, with a particular focus on:
· The right to participation and information;
· The right to protection;
· The right to safeguards in Restorative Justice;
· The right to victim support services;
· Assisting victims with specific needs;
· The financial costs to the victim (expenses, legal aid, compensation);
· Prevention and unreported crime.
We hope you will be able to attend!
Information and registration:
APAV presented a new awareness raising campaign on the human trafficking - To Help SHARE: www.naoaotrafico.pt. This campaign was developed under the Project BRISEIS, promoted by APAV and co-financed by the European Comission. The campaign was developed with the partnership of the creative agency Legendary People + Ideas with the support of many companies and institutions.
TO HELP SHARE: NO TO TRAFFICKING
On the November 28th APAV promoted the Conference on Protection Orders in the European Member States. The conference took place in Lisbon, in Hotel Olissipo Oriente, under the objectives of the POEMS project, promoted by APAV.
During the conference the results of the POEMS project were presented and discussed. There were also presentations on the implementation of the European Protection Order, the EPOgender project, and Austrian emergency barring orders.
The POEMS project was sponsored under the Daphne III program. It aimed to make an inventory of protection order legislation and practice in the Member States, to identify best practices and possible gaps, and to evaluate the level of protection offered to victims, also in the light of the European Protection Order. It did so with the help of national (expert) reports, victim interviews and literature study. The ultimate goal was to enhance the protection provided to victims. How can current laws and practices in relation to protection orders be improved?
Informations and programme:
On the 24th of September, APAV launched the website www.abcjustica.pt, developed under the Project ABC Justice, promoted by APAV and co-financed by the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, of the United States Embassy.
Within the context of an increased attention towards the rights of victims of crime, following the adoption of the new Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, this new and innovative resource aims to inform youngsters aged between 12 and 17 about the functioning of the criminal justice system and the rights of victims of crime.
Several themes are covered using a simple approach, with uncomplicated and child-friendly language. The rights of victims of crime and the ways and resources to obtain them are explained. Youngsters are also provided with an overview of the different phases of the criminal proceedings as well as with the role of the most relevant figures that work or participate in the criminal justice system.
Young visitors will also be allowed to have some fun while learning. They are presented with videos where young students explain the core themes of the website, with useful links and with a glossary. A quiz for young people to put their knowledge at test is also available.
For now the website is available in Portuguese, but soon we will present an English version so that other foreign youngsters can jump on board for a trip into the world of the criminal justice system. Feel free to join us on a visit!