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24th Jan 2021

Victims of violence set for EU-wide protection

  • EU legislators want victims of gender violence protected throughout the Union (Photo: Topeka Library)

Battered women and other victims of violence will be afforded greater EU-wide protection under European Commission proposals voted through by euro-deputies in Strasbourg on Wednesday (22 May).

“We want to make sure that any victim of a crime can enjoy maximum protection of the territory of the European Union,” said Spanish centre-right MEP, Antonia Lopez-Isturiz White, one of two lead negotiators on the file.

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EU lawmakers want national civil restraining, barring or other protection orders recognised throughout the Union.

The idea is to enable victims to travel and live in other member states without having to worry about being followed or victimised again by the same aggressor.

The rules would apply to all victims of stalking, harassment or gender-based violence with extra emphasis on women.

Battered women would, for instance, have access to specialist support services from trained officials anywhere in the EU.

The formalities of getting protection will also be cut with paper work reduced down to a EU-wide standard civil protection certificate that can be ordered online.

The certificate is issued by the origin member state to the host and is said to encompass all the different civil measures required to protect victims. It is multi-lingual and free.

The certificate would automatically extend the person’s protection to a host member state once police are notified.

Details on the certificate would include the identity and, where possible, the address of the person causing the victim grief. The aggressor is also informed of the EU-wide protection order.

The regulation specifically covers threats to people’s “physical and psychological integrity” but only in civil and not in criminal cases. This includes threats to personal liberty, security and sexual integrity.

The regulation is part of a larger package of laws designed to protect victims, including a directive on victim’s rights that became EU law last November.

The latest draft proposal is set to complement the directive on the European protection order. The directive, for its part, deals exclusively with criminal cases.

“Together, the two instruments will cover the broadest possible range of protection measures taken by member states,” said Bulgarian Liberal Antonyia Parvanova, who helped draft the parliament’s report.

Some lawmakers believe the proposals could have gone further.

Spanish Socialist Carmen Romero Lopez said legislators were unable to agree on terminology.

“We do regret that at this point in fact we didn’t make progress in defining the crime of violence against women as continued aggression. To be realistic, we should have included this crime,” she noted.

Member states will next have to agree to the regulation though the commission wants it anchored into national laws by 2015 at the latest.

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule, speaking on behalf of EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, told the Strasbourg plenary that the commission will provide member states with guidelines and experts to ensure proper implementation.

“We will not allow these laws to become a dead letter … we will monitor transposition and compliance,” he said.

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