Terrorism is the use of violence, especially murder and bombing, in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to do something.

 

VSE carries out a range of activities to ensure that policies, laws, and services at the national, European, and international level meet the needs of victims of terrorism.

In 2020, the European Commission set up the EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism (the EUCVT) to ensure that the EU rules on victims of terrorism are correctly applied. The EUCVT is set up and run by the European Commission with the support of a consortium of victim support associations led by Victim Support Europe.

The rights of victims of terrorism are described in the EU Directive 2017/541 on combating terrorism. These rights build on EU Directive 2012/29/EU on establishing minimum standards on the rights, support, and protection of victims of crime.

Support must be:

  • Delivered by specialised services addressing the specific needs of victims of terrorism – in addition to or as part of victim support services;
  • Confidential, free of charge and easily accessible to all victims of terrorism;
  • Available immediately after an attack and for as long as necessary afterwards.

 

The support should include:

  • Emotional and psychological support, such as trauma support and counselling;
  • Provision of advice and information on relevant legal, practical or financial matters and in line with the Victims’ Rights Directive;
  • Assistance with claims regarding compensation.
  • Investigations and prosecution of offences are not dependent on a report or accusation made by a victim of terrorism.
  • Access to legal aid must be in accordance with Directive 2012/29/EU, where victims have the status of parties to criminal proceedings.
  • Measures are available to protect victims of terrorism and their family members, in accordance with Directive 2012/29/EU. Particular attention is to be paid to the risk of intimidation and retaliation, and to protect the dignity and physical integrity of victims of terrorism, including during questioning and when testifying.
  • Adequate medical treatment is provided to victims of terrorism immediately after a terrorist attack and for as long as necessary.

These rights are relevant for victims of terrorism, who are resident in an EU country other than where the attack took place:

  • Access to information regarding their rights, available support services and compensation schemes in the Member State where the terrorist offence was committed.
  • Member States shall ensure that all victims of terrorism have access to the assistance and support services on the territory of the Member State of their residence, even if the terrorist offence was committed in another Member State.

The French government provides practical instructions in this video (in French with English subtitles), based on the keywords: escape, hide, alert.

How to react in the event of a terrorist attack (video)

Here are some tips on what to do if there is a terrorist attack near you :

  • Stay in your home, or workplace
  • Do not go out into the public streets
  • Be alert to local news developments
  • Follow all security restrictions
  • If you are in a building located close to the site of a terrorist attack, stay away from the windows
  • If in the vicinity of an attack, do not stay to watch what is happening, as you will only get in the way of the emergency services. There is also a risk that additional attacks may occur
  • Make a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations and hospitals

(source: World Nomads)

Here are some tips on what to do if there’s a bomb blast :

  • Leave the area as soon as possible
  • Do not run – you may be mistaken for the bomber. If you are in a crowd, stay on the fringes
  • Stay clear of glass shop fronts
  • If you are injured, attend to yourself before others
  • Obey all instructions and orders given by local police
  • Listen to television and radio reports
  • Contact family or friends and let them know your situation

(source: World Nomads)

If you have been a victim of a terrorist attack, you will feel a range of emotions, from fear and anxiety to anger, guilt, or depression.  Such emotions are normal, and you will need support from family, friends, and specialists to help you deal with them.  Specialists can also help you with the legal or financial/compensation issues that may involve you after a terror attack.

In the hours or days after an attack, you should contact the relevant local authorities – police, local government, NGOs – to ensure you are registered as having been at the scene (this is particularly helpful if you left without being in contact with any of the first responders). Member States provide information on support for victims of a terrorist attack on government websites, NGO websites, through helplines and social media. If you do not wish to make an official report, you should contact your local victim support organisation as staff will help you find the support whether psychological, physical, or financial that you may need. You can always submit an official report later.

When you do make contact, you will need to give information on:

  • Date, time, place of the attack
  • What was your response
  • What happened to you during the attack
  • Were you injured, if so, did you go to the hospital or see a doctor
  • Was property lost

You will be given a report number and a police investigator will be allocated your complaint. The officer will handle the progress of your file up to and including the trial stage, assuming the attacker is apprehended and brought to justice. You will be expected to provide statements detailing the attack and its effect on you, these will be used at any trial that takes place. You will be informed of your rights as a victim and you will be told what to expect if your case is brought before a jury. Importantly, you have the right to legal assistance in all EU member states and the right to an interpreter if the trial takes place outside your own country.

Being a victim is an emotional experience, you will be stressed and worried about your personal safety.  It is important to reach out for help: there are many organizations ready to support you when you are ready to ask for assistance. Victim Support offers free, confidential advice and help to all crime victims and its staff will work with you in the aftermath of your attack.  After a terrorist attack, VSE will collect relevant information for victims and publish it on the website.

If you have been affected by terrorism, there are a number of ways you can contact support services to get assistance or information:

If you’ve been involved in a terror attack, there are a number of ways you can contact support services to get assistance or information.

  1. Get support locally. Contact your nearest Victim Support team.
  2. Call 116 006, the telephone number for helplines for victim support. This number is available in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden.

The 116 006 helps victims of crime by informing them of their rights and how to use these, offering emotional support, while also referring victims to relevant organisations. As a single access point, it will provide information about local police and criminal justice proceedings, possibilities for compensation and insurance matters, and other sources of help for victims of crime.

If you are a professional who is looking for information on specific terrorist attacks, please contact the EUCVT (eucvt@victimsupporteurope.eu)

The European Commission set up the EU Centre of expertise for victims of terrorism (the EUCVT) in January 2020 to offer expertise, guidance and support to national authorities and victim support organisations. The EUCVT helps to ensure that the EU rules on victims of terrorism are correctly applied. It promotes exchange of best practices and sharing of expertise among the practitioners and specialists across borders. It does not provide direct help and assistance to particular victims of terrorism, but it helps to ensure that national structures offer professional assistance and support to victims of terrorism in every EU country. The EUCVT is set up and run by the European Commission with the support of a consortium of victim support associations led by Victim Support Europe. The consortium carries out the tasks of the EU Centre on behalf of the Commission and acts in a partnership with the Association française des Victimes du Terrorisme, the Fondation Lenval, and ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre.

See the Utrecht Municipality website for up-to-date information on where to get help and support if you have been affected by the attack in Utrecht, Netherlands on 18 March 2019.

If you were present during the attack at Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019 and are looking for more information on help and support, please visit New Zealand’s Government webpage, where you will find relevant links and information.

The FBI is assisting the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in investigating the shooting at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on October 1, 2017. Find more information.  The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is offering information and transitional support to the victims who have been affected by the attack. Please find more information here.  The Give an Hour organization will be offering victims support and help for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, starting in late September 2020, under the SoCalRoute91 programme. The support services will notably include support groups, an online trauma resource library and referrals for mental health services.

Victims across Spain looking for support and information related to the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks on 17 August 2017, contact the Victim Assistance Offices. To find the nearest Victim Assistance Office for Violent crimes you can contact, please visit Oficinas de Asistencia a las Víctimas de delitos violentos.  More information on victims’ rights and compensation for victims of terrorism are available on the Spanish Ministry of the Interior website.

Victims of the London Bridge terrorism attack on 3 June 2017  and on 19 June 2017 at Finsbury Park, London, UK should visit the UK Government information portal on Support Victims of Terrorism. The website provides information on support services (including medical treatments, mental health support and compensation claims) and advice for victims of terrorist attacks.  TELL MAMA supports victims, specifically victims of anti-Muslim hate and is a public service which also measures and monitors anti-Muslim incidents.

On 22 May 2017, a terrorist attack took place at the Manchester Arena, UK.  The UK Government information portal on Support Victims of Terrorism provides information on support services and advice for victims of terrorism, including on medical treatments, mental health support and compensation claims.

People who were victimized or affected by the Stockholm, Sweden attack on 7 April 2017, can find information on victims’ rights and support in Sweden, on the Swedish Crime Compensation and Support Authority website.  Stockholm has opened an information platform which the public can turn to if they are worried and want to talk to someone. You can find information on their website or visit them at Hantverkargatan 3. As children were particularly affected by this attack. Advice on how to talk to children and teenagers about tragedies and other events are available on Healthy Children. The Swedish organization Bris also offers online and phone support services to teenagers and children who want to discuss about a traumatic event.

If you were affected by the metro attack in Saint Petersburg, Russia on 3 April 2017, Victim Support Foundation (VSF Russia), a member of VSE, will help you find information and support in Russia.

If you were a victim of the Berlin (Germany) Christmas Market attack on 19 December 2016, you can get more information on where to find help, support, and information by downloading the guidelines on ‘Where to get help if becoming victim of a terror attack in Germany?. This document was developed by VSE member organization Weisser Ring to support victims in getting the necessary information. For more information on where to get help in your region after a terrorist attack, please consult the Federal Ministry of Justice handbook on Hilfe nach einem Terroranschlag.

If you live in Nice, France and are looking for help related to the lorry attack  that took place on 14 July 2016, the support center is located at the following address: Maison d’accueil des victimes, 6 rue Gubernatis, 0600, Nice. You can find more information on help, information, and support on the Guichet unique d’information et de déclaration pour les victimes. More detailed information on compensation can be found on the Fonds de Garantie des Victimes website.

A single point of contact has been established for the victims of the attacks in Zaventem and Brussels, Belgium on 22 March 2016. If you were or know a victim of the attack, you can get more information on where to find help, support, and information on the Ministry of Justice information portal. The Flemish general welfare centers (CAW) have also organized service to victims. Please visit their website to find more information. If you have any questions about the current threat level, consult the website of the Crisis Centre, its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Victims of the Paris, France attacks on 13 November 2015 can find more information on where to find help, information, and support on the Guichet unique d’information et de déclaration pour les victimes. Specific information on compensation can be found on the Fonds de Garantie des Victimes website.