ILGA-Europe welcomes the European Commission’s proposal on better protection of crime victims
On 18 May 2011, the European Commission proposed a package of legislative measures to strengthen victims’ rights in the European Union including a proposal for a new directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime which would improve the existing Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings (2001.220/JHA).
ILGA-Europe warmly welcomes this initiative by the European Commission. It believes that such legislation will improve current EU laws in this area which do not provide adequate protection and are still poorly implemented by Member States. Additionally, the proposed legislation is a step forward for victims of crime to benefit from improved and harmonised protection, recognition and support across the EU, within a strengthened framework of EU freedom of movement and residence.
ILGA-Europe particularly welcomes the fact that the proposed directive recognises several types of victims and their specific circumstances. Thus the proposed directive acknowledges ‘vulnerable victims’ and provides for individual assessment of their vulnerability "due to their personal characteristics or the circumstances or the type or nature of the crime". The proposal also took on board ILGA-Europe’s call for inclusion of LGBTI people who fall victims of crime and clearly states that the purpose of such assessment and establishing the nature of the crime includes ‘bias crime’, and amongst other characteristics includes a clear reference to gender and gender identity and sexual orientation.
Vulnerable victims will benefit from improved provision, taking into consideration their concerns and fears, as regards to the right to protection from further victimisation or intimidation, to be interviewed by specifically trained professionals, and not to be questioned unnecessarily on private life during court proceedings, the rights to an appropriate support throughout criminal proceedings.
Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said:
“We welcome this proposal aimed at improving the treatment of crime victims and to provide better systems and procedures to support them across the EU. We particularly welcome the fact that the proposed package recognises sexual orientation, gender and gender identity amongst the grounds on the basis of which individuals suffer bias violence and other crime. This is in line with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence adopted last April by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
ILGA-Europe and its member organisations will continue working with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency to gather information and statistics about homophobic and transphobic crime. We believe the next necessary step for the European Union is to extend the existing Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia to include and cover homophobic and transphobic bias crime. ILGA-Europe also looks forward to the non-legislative measures that are promised in the communication of 18 May.”