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.
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:
FRA is currently developing a project through which it will identify best practices on victim support, by mapping the services provided, and therefore equipping the EU and the Member States with updated information on what is currently available and how.
The European Commission asked FRA to undergo this study in order to have results before the 15th of November 2015, and therefore be useful for the transposition into national law of the Victims’ Directive (Directive 2012/29/EU).
The first results are now available in the form of comparative tables and maps and the final report will be launched later this year.
Initial findings stress the need for States to step up their efforts to provide support, underlining the importance of cooperating with civil society organizations.
To see the results already made public and know more about the study, just check FRA’s webpage:
As consumers, each day we are more aware about the origins of the products we use. We have learned that there can be a lot of suffering related to the production of the things we buy, resulting from labour exploitation and the trafficking of people. We may believe that severe labour exploitation only happens in the Global South and not in Europe but, unfortunately, our continent is far from being a safe haven when it comes to the protection of labour rights.
To raise awareness on this issue, La Strada International, together with anti-trafficking NGOs all over Europe (in Portugal, APAV) is developing the campaign Used in Europe, disclosing information about human trafficking and labour exploitation situations that are happening in Europe and resources for people and business to fight this issue. You can check the campaign in the website: www.usedineurope.com
APAV is also currently developing a raising awareness campaign on trafficking, under the Project BRISEIS - to see the campaign click here.
APAV just launched a revamped website dedicated to tourists victims of crime: May I Help You?. Developed under the Project May I Help You?, promoted by APAV, this site aims to improve the information and support given to people who are victims of a crime in another Member State of the European Union. The information on the website is available in Portuguese, English and Spanish.
Considering that the crime victim can feel even more vulnerable when visiting a foreign country, in addition to the linguistic and cultural differences, it is difficult for victims to seek support after the crime.
This site provides useful information for tourists, informing them of their rights, providing information on available support systems, safety tips, tourist information about Portugal and information on APAV.
APAV has deepened support for victims tourists over the years, working closely with the embassies and consulates. This new site is another important tool to complement this ongoing work specific support.
Site: May I Help You?