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Putting victims first: New rules on victims' rights to become law
A new European law to improve rights for an estimated 75 million crime victims across the European Union each year will be published in the Official Journal – the EU's statute book – today. The directive on victims' rights was adopted on 4 October by the Council of Ministers (IP/12/1066), after the European Parliament endorsed it with an overwhelming majority on 12 September (MEMO/12/659). The directive sets out minimum rights for victims, wherever they are in the EU (see IP/11/585). Member States now have three years to implement the provisions into their national laws.
"It is good news for citizens that our new law guaranteeing rights for all victims of crime in the EU is in the European statute book," said Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President and EU Justice Commissioner. "I expect to see Member States transposing this Directive as a matter of priority to address the needs of the millions of Europeans and their families who are victimised by crime every year. I would like to thank everyone who has helped us to make this new law a reality, including the very vocal and active support of Members of the European Parliament, European justice ministers and Maggie Hughes, whose son was a victim of crime on holiday and who has campaigned tirelessly for victims' rights. The ball is now in the courts of Member States to put these new rights into practice on the ground. I call on them to swiftly bring their national legislation in line with the new EU directive so that all victims are treated with respect, are properly informed, and receive the right support."
The EU directive on minimum standards for victims was tabled by the Commission in May 2011 (IP/11/585 and MEMO/11/310). Today's publication in the Official Journal follows adoption by the Council of the EU (IP/12/1066) and a plenary vote in the European Parliament (MEMO/12/659). This came after the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement in June following intense negotiations mediated by the European Commission.
The new EU Directive on minimum standards for victims will ensure that, in all 27 EU countries:
victims are treated with respect and police, prosecutors and judges are trained to properly deal with them;
victims get information on their rights and their case in a way they understand;
victim support exists in every Member State;
victims can participate in proceedings if they want and are helped to attend the trial;
vulnerable victims are identified – such as children, victims of rape, or those with disabilities – and are properly protected;
victims are protected while police investigate the crime and during court proceedings.
For more information
European Commission – victims' rights
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)
Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)