Tourists who are victims of crime in a country where they do not reside generally have the same rights as a national citizen.
Having in mind the particular situation of tourists who are victims of crime, we highlight the following rights:
Right to Information:
As soon as the victims comes into contact with an authority, be it the Public Prosecutor or the police, they have the right to be informed of the following:
What type of support is available and who can provide it, namely: medical assistance, psychological support, specialised support and, if justifiable, a place to stay; How and where to file a complaint or report a crime; How and in what circumstances can protection be granted; How to access legal advice and aid; How and under which conditions can compensation from the offender be claimed; In the cases of violent crimes or domestic violence, how and in which cases can compensation from the State be claimed; How to have access to interpretation and translation services; In the case of victims not residing in Portugal, which special procedures are in place to defend their rights in Portugal; How to make a complaint if their rights are not respected by the authorities; Contacts of the authorities the victim should use to provide or request information about the process; What mediation services are available; How and in what conditions can the reimbursement of expenses resulting from the victim's participation in the process take place.
The information provided may vary according to the specific needs and personal circumstances of the victim and the type of crime.
Additional information may be provided at other stages in the process.
Right to Receive a Statement of the Complaint
The victim who files a complaint has the right to receive a statement of that act (in Portuguese certificado do registo da denúncia), that is, a statement that confirms the filling of the complaint and that mentions the crime endured, the date and place of the occurrence and the damage caused.
Requesting this statement should be done in writing to the Public Prosecutor and needs to include the criminal process reference number and a description of the request: a statement of the complaint, in Portuguese um certificado do registo da denúncia.
If the victims do not understand Portuguese, they have the right to receive this written statement either in their language or in one they can understand.
APAV can help you exercise this right by helping you writing your request for the statement of your complaint.
Right to Translation
The Portuguese language is used during all criminal proceedings: this includes both verbal proceedings, such as interviews of witnesses, and written proceedings, for example summons to attend the trial.
When the victims do not understand or speak Portuguese and have to participate in the criminal proceedings, they have the right to an interpreter that knows well both the Portuguese language and the language spoken by the victim — this is dependent on a request to the appropriate authority. For example, if the victim is Russian and does not understand Portuguese, an interpreter will be called in to translate into Portuguese what the victim says, and to Russian, or to another language understood by the victim, all that is said or asked in Portuguese.
If the victims are participating in the proceedings as a civil party or as an assistant, they have the right to receive translations of all the information in the proceedings (for example, the sentence) in a language they understand. This is essential for them to be able to exercise their rights.
If a victim is deaf or hard of hearing, a sign language interpreter will be called in. If the victim is unable to speak, the questions are asked orally, and the victim will reply in writing.
The interpreter's role in all these situations is very important to ensure that victims understand what is conveyed and enabling them to participate actively in the criminal proceedings.
Appointing an interpreter is free of charge.
Right to Compensation for Participation in the Process and to the Reimbursement of Expenses
A victim participating as a witness in criminal proceedings has the right to be compensated for the time spent in that role and to be reimbursed for the expenses incurred. Compensation must be requested in writing by filling in specific forms available at the court.
The victim is entitled to 7 to 13 euros compensation for each visit to court - the exact amount is calculated considering the distance travelled and time spent in court by the victim. In the case of victims residing abroad and who have to travel to Portugal to take part in the proceedings, travel expenses can also be reimbursed.
Right to Compensation from the Perpetrator of the Crime
The victim has the right to be compensated by the offender for the material and moral damages suffered.
As a rule, compensation should be claimed for as part of the criminal proceedings. Victims should thus inform either the police or the Public Prosecutor up to the end of the investigation phase that they wish to file a claim for compensation, and they can do this when they provide evidence. Later, when the victim receives the notification with the defendant's accusation, they will have a deadline of 20 days to present the claim.
If the claim is above 5,000 Euros, a lawyer representing the victim should present it.
If it is equal to or less than 5,000 Euros, the victims can do it themselves.
The claim for civil compensation does not involve special formalities:
it is a request that should contain a brief description of the facts in which the request is grounded and the following damages and corresponding value:
›Material damage, comprising:
Damages directly caused by the crime, for example, the costs of hospital treatments, medication expenses, travel to medical appointments, damaged clothes, etc. The benefits the victim lost due to the crime, for example income not received because of incapacity for work are also material damages.
› Moral (or non- material) damages, that is, those losses not possible to assess economically since they refer to health, well-being, honour and reputation.They can only be compensated by obliging the offender to pay a certain amount to the victim. Moral damages are, for example, physical pain, psychological distress, emotional distress, loss of prestige and damage to reputation, etc.
Along with the claim for compensation, victims should also enclose supporting evidence, such as hospital bills, the names of people who witnessed their suffering and know what they went through, etc.
If there was a claim for compensation, the decision on the outcome is included in the sentence.
Even if a claim for compensation is not presented, the judge, on his/her own initiative and taking into account the victim's situation, can sentence the offender to pay the victim a certain amount in compensation for damages. However, the judge will not be able to this if the victim disagrees.
Right to Compensation from the Portuguese State
Protection to victims of violent crimes includes the payment of compensation from the State if the offender is unable to afford it and the damage caused to the victim's quality and level of life has been considerable.
Compensation is paid to:
Victims of grievous bodily harm (i.e., causing permanent incapacity, temporary total incapacity for work of at least 30 days, or death) directly caused by acts of violence; those who have a legal right to maintenance if the victim dies - for example, their children and the partner who lived with the victim; those who helped the victim or collaborated with the authorities preventing the crime, pursuing and arresting the offender for damages incurred as consequence of that.
Having at least 30 days of permanent incapacity or temporary total incapacity for work is not a requirement for claiming compensation in sexual crimes. Although this type of crime does not, as a rule, cause incapacity for work of at least 30 days, this exception is justified by the seriousness of the crime.
The compensation claim can be presented up to a year from the occurrence of the crime or, if criminal proceedings take place, up to a year after their final decision. A victim who is under-age at the time of the crime can claim for compensation up to a year after reaching the age of majority (adulthood) or emancipation.
The claim should be sent to the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crime. It should be filled in a special form available from the Commission services, the APAV's Victim Support Offices and the Internet.
The victim's claim is exempt from any costs or fees and all necessary documents for filing the claim can be obtained free of charge.
In the case of tourists who are victims of crime, the claim for compensation can be presented to the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crime in Portugal, or if the tourist is a national or resident of another Member State of the European Union, the claim can be presented to the corresponding authority in that country. To know which European Union Member State's authority you should approach, click here (http://ec.europa.eu)
APAV can help you exercising your rights
To know more about the rights of victims of crime, go to www.infovitimas.pt