Saturday

21st Sep 2019

EU ministers back new bill to help victims of crime

  • Parvanova: 'Women are particularly exposed to hidden and unreported forms of violence' (Photo: West Midlands Police)

Justice ministers meeting in Luxemburg on Friday (April 27) have backed a new EU law to strengthen legal and police protection for victims of crime.

The measures would help streamline judicial and legislative procedures for EU nationals in civil law cases who currently risk struggling with different languages, cultures and legal systems when moving to another member state.

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"The council agreed to have a greater defence of the victims of crime, there is an agreement on the framework for the set-up of victim's protection. The important thing is to ensure that victims don't drown in cumbersome procedures," said Morten Bodskov, the Danish minister for justice, who chaired the talks.

Under the proposal, victims would be issued an EU-wide standard certificate containing all the relevant information on their case. They could then present the certificate to police in any other member state.

For instance, if a court in one EU country ordered an estranged spouse to stay at least 500 metres away from his or her partner, the same would apply in any another member state. The police would have to contact the 'stalker' and notify them of the consequences if he violates the injunction, while the victim, would - in theory - receive the same level of protection.

Authorities would first have to verify that the accused stalker has received a fair trial, before issuing the certificate.

The regulation is part of a larger 2009 commission draft European Protection Order (EPO) directive designed to ensure victims of violence and crime are afforded the same protection no matter where they live or reside in the EU.

The EPO as a whole has received wide support from the both the European Parliament and member states. Under the EPO, victims of rape, children, persons with disabilities and victims of human trafficking are designated by the commission as "vulnerable" and would benefit from special treatment.

The European Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs and women's rights committees want to expand the commission's list of designated vulnerable.

Asylum seekers and refugees, elderly and victims of gender-based violence, terrorism, organised crime, violence in close relationships, torture, hate crime, organ trafficking and attempted homicide should also be considered vulnerable, say the committees.

"Women are particularly exposed to hidden and unreported forms of violence, and while establishing minimum standards for the protection of all victims, it is essential that issues such as gender-based violence are recognised and properly addressed," Bulgarian liberal MEP Antonyia Parvanova, the rapporteur for the women's rights committee, said.

The two committees will meet in late May to vote on the regulation.

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