Why the Action Week 2022

Let’s start with a ‘simple’ question: How to ensure safe justice from a victim’s perspective?

We have a duty to protect the victims of crime, improve the level of service that they can expect from the criminal justice system and raise the quality of support that they receive. It is essential on a practical level to ensure that in operational terms we have the most effective justice system possible. After all, we can secure convictions and bring down rates of crime only if victims have the confidence to report crimes to the police and engage with prosecutors to make sure that their testimony is heard in court. For both those reasons and at every level, we must do better.

As things stand, too many victims feel that the criminal justice system does not deliver justice for them. Too many feel let down by the system, which compounds the pain and suffering from the original crime. That must change. Our task is to improve the service and support that victims receive from the point at which a crime is reported right through to their experience in the courtroom.

For the last year, Victim  Support  Europe  has been  working  on  a Discussion Paper  on  Safe  Justice.  This  paper aims to discuss the current practical problems and barriers for victims in achieving justice in the course of a real-life victim’s journey from crime to the outcome of criminal proceedings. Additionally, the paper will challenge conceptional concerns and preconceived notions that lie at the basis of (some of) the current justice systems and that may influence the victim’s ability to achieve safe justice.  With this  paper,  we  aim  to  address  ways  in  which  the  justice  system  harms  victims  unnecessarily.  We thereby want to start the conversation on how to make the criminal justice system work in a way that is less harmful to victims and victims’ families, as well as is considered more successful by victims and their families regardless of the outcome of guilt of the suspect. The action week presents an opportunity to significantly influence the EU criminal justice legislation, particularly because the European Commission is currently revising EU victims’ laws as well as working on legislative proposals that impact the rights of victims of a crime in criminal justice processes.

During the Action Week on Safe Justice, we want to exchange knowledge and opinions from victims and experts in the field on major challenges and opportunities  for  victims  throughout  their  journey  towards justice.

Why this week?

We organise the Action Week 2022 from 21 to 25 February 2022, with on 22 February the European Day for Victims of Crime. In 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden, Victim Support Europe declared 22 February to be the European Day for Victims of Crime. The European Day offers the momentum to remember those who have suffered at the hands of criminals – many millions every year – children and adults, women and men, poor and wealthy, residents and visitors to the EU.

The Action Week seeks views on:

  • How to give victims a more powerful voice at every stage of the criminal justice system?
  • How to increase transparency and redress in respect of the support that victims receive in practice?
  • How to ensure that every criminal justice agency is properly held to account for its role in the wider system?
  • How to better protect victims, especially victims of rape and sexual violence, to give them greater confidence about giving the testimony that can help to secure a conviction.

The major takeaways from this Action Week can stand as a basis for a careful rethinking, at national and EU-level, of what should the EU do to improve justice services to protect victims of crime.

The Action Week aims to:

  • Take the debate forward and explore the fundamentals of achieving safe justice system;
  • Outline the principles of safe justice and its application in practice, followed by a consideration of what it may offer victims of crime;
  • Explore the possibilities and to present approaches which may better serve victims and the community.

The Action Week's key thematic elements:

The key principles of safe justice and their application in practice:

  • Fundamentals of Justice;
  • Concept of victim;
  • Concept of safe justice (addressing the needs of victims in addressing crime by using rights-based narrative).

Questions raised:

What do you believe the concept “Safe Justice for Victims” includes?

 

Tackling underreporting of crimes:

  • Identification and recognition of victims;
  • Underreporting of crimes;
  • Victims’ barriers challenges when reporting a crime.

Questions raised:

How can the act of reporting a crime be facilitated?

 

Ensuring victims’ access to information, support and protection throughout the criminal justice process:

  • Organisation of referral to support services;
  • Individual assessment of victims’ needs;
  • Referral systems;
  • Unconditional access to victim support services;
  • Trauma-informed criminal justice.

Questions raised:

How can the victim’s access to information and support throughout the justice process be improved?

How can we ensure that a victim is protected from potential further harm caused by the suspect and/or by all authorities involved in the criminal justice process?

 

Ensuring active participation of victims in the criminal justice process:

  • Varying roles of victims in the criminal justice process;
  • Victims’ access to procedural rights;
  • Victims’ need to respectful treatment by court officials;
  • Victims’ need for support and information (including explanation on legal jargon) on specificities of the criminal justice proceedings.

Questions raised:

Should all victims have access to 3rd party assistance throughout the criminal proceedings, such as court accompaniment and legal representation, regardless of their status in criminal proceedings?

How to give victims a more powerful voice during proceedings?

 

Availability of reparations and remedies for victims:

  • Availability of remedies in case of a violation of victim’s rights during the criminal justice process;
  • Compensation;
  • Punishment of the offender;
  • Outside of the criminal/civil justice system: alternative forms of justice, including restorative justice processes.

Questions raised:

Which remedies should be available to victims in case of a violation of their rights during the criminal justice process?

How should access to compensation and reparation be arranged in a victim-centric manner?

Campaign Timeline

At the EU level, the campaign is running across major VSE social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram. We invite citizens to create and share content as part of the bespoke hashtags: #SafeJusticeForVictims #itexists #victimsupporteu #EUVictimsRights

Live Debate - Future of Justice for Victims in the European Union

On the European Day for Victims of Crime, Victim Support Europe is organising an online live debate on the “Future of Justice for Victims in the European Union“. We kindly invite you to join this online event that will take place on Tuesday 22 February 2022, between 14:00 and 16:00 CET

The principles of safe justice and its application in practice will be outlined, followed by a live testimony of Nina Fuchs – a showcase of the structural and systematic discrimination that victims of sexualised violence are exposed to by the judiciary. Building on a victims’ perspective in accessing justice and the practical barriers they face, we will conduct the debate on how to overcome several of these limitations in the future.
The objective of this discussion is to explore the possibilities and to present approaches which may better serve victims and their community in achieving safe justice.
Join the debate
The live debate will be hosted on ZOOM. We kindly ask to register in advance for this event here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The event it is organised as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Conference provides the opportunity for European citizens to debate on Europe’s challenges and priorities and to put forward recommendations. Everyone is welcome to join the debate and express their opinion upon registration here.
Agenda
Time Topic
14:00 – 14:05

 

Welcoming words

Geraldine Hanna | President, Victim Support Europe

14:05 – 14:15

 

The key principles of safe justice and their application in practice

Levent Altan | Executive Director, Victim Support Europe

14:15 – 14:35

 

Live Testimony

Nina Fuchs | Executive Director, Kein Opfer e.V.

14:35 – 15:45 Webinar debate

Moderator:

Geraldine Hanna | President, Victim Support Europe

Key discussion points:

  • Tackling underreporting of crimes
    Ingrid Sanders | Confidential Information Officer, Belgian Federal Police
  • Ensuring victims’ access to information, support and protection throughout the criminal justice process
    Antony Pemberton | Professor, Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven & Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)
  • Ensuring active participation of victims in the criminal justice process
    Frida Wheldon | Development Director Legal Affairs, Victim Support Sweden
  • Availability of reparations and remedies for victims
    Tim Chapman | Chair of Board, European Forum for Restorative Justice
15:45 – 16:00 Concluding remarks

Geraldine Hanna | President, Victim Support Europe

To download the event report, please click here.

How to get involved?

  • Spread the word: share our campaign messages on your social media channels!
  • Share your story with us on our social media channels!
  • Start a conversation: comment and question!

Share information about the campaign with your network and encourage others to get involved using the hashtag #SafeJusticeForVictims.

You can tag us in Facebook (@Victim Support Europe), in Twitter (@VictimSupportEU), in LinkedIn (@Victim Support Europe) and in Instagram (@victimsupport.eu).

Campaign hashtags
#SafeJusticeForVictims #VictimsForJustice #seekjustice #22February

Who is conducting the campaign?

Victim Support Europe (VSE), the leading European umbrella organisation advocating on behalf of all victims of crime, has developed the ​Safe Justice for Victims – VSE Action Week 2022.

We have partnered with civil society organisations, various project participants, member organisations and experts in the field of victims’ rights to spread the word about the campaign and share victims’ experiences from different groups in society.

If you have any further question or you would like to contribute to the ​Safe Justice for Victims – VSE Action Week 2022, you can contact: Lieselotte Van Den Heuvel, vseoffice2@victimsupporteurope.eu.