Whereas in the past victims of crime were frequently the forgotten side of the state-victim-defendant triangle, today they enjoy a boarder list of rights and are entitled to a more active participation in the criminal proceedings. This is the result of the European Union’s impetus with the creation of the so-called victims’ rights package which culminated with the adoption of the Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA, more commonly known as the Victims’ Directive.
Public prosecutors have far-reaching powers within criminal proceedings which necessarily impact on those involved in the proceedings, particularly victims. In parallel with these procedural powers, prosecutors also have a responsibility towards the effective enjoyment of rights by victims. In fact, according to the Council of Europe, public prosecutors do not only have the duty to take into account victims’ views and concerns, but also to respect and protect their rights (Council of Europe, Recommendation Rec(2000)19, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council on 6 October 2000 on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system).
However, the emphasis on victims’ rights is still quite recent in some EU Member States. Therefore, Public Prosecution Services are not always aware of their role in ensuring victims’ rights.
To change this, it is important, first to study the role prosecutors have or can have in ensuring victims’ rights and, then, address the gaps found by providing information and training to public prosecutors across the EU.
Project PROVICTIMS was created to address this need and aims at enhancing the role of prosecutors s in promoting the rights of victims as well as improving cooperation between the prosecution services and victim support services.
PROVICTIMS: The Role of Public Prosecution Services in the Promotion of Victims’ Rights is a two-year project co-funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme and coordinated by the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV), in partnership with the Portuguese Prosecutor General’s Office (PGR), the Centre of Investigation on Criminal Law and Criminal Sciences of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon (CIDPCC/FDL), the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the White Circle Croatia Association and the Institute for Social Reintegration of the Basque Country (IRSE-EBI).
The project’s specific objectives are:
PROVICTIMS’s main activities include: