EU public consultations with regard to victims’ rights legislation

By June 16, 2022 June 20th, 2022 News

Regularly the European Commission launches public consultations on laws and policies that are currently in development. VSE continues to respond to the public consultations in the field of victims’ rights, with as highlight the upcoming revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive. Please find below a brief summary on this consultation, as well as more information about the recently launched and currently ongoing consultations on child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Victims’ Rights Directive revision

In the context of the revision of the EU Victims’ Rights Directive, the European Commission has launched a public consultation to collect information, data, views and experience of citizens and stakeholders on the EU rules on victims’ rights. It ensures that citizens and stakeholders can provide their views and will feed into the impact assessment evidence-base underpinning the initiative. The public consultation targeted all relevant stakeholders: Member States and other national authorities, non-governmental organisations, victims’ associations, victim support organisations, academia and individual citizens.

VSE worked with its Board and member organisations to advocate for a strengthened Directive.

The Victims’ Rights Directive has been a key instrument which has made a difference to the lives of millions of victims of a crime every year. However, gaps in the full and effective implementation of the Directive remain and many Member States are still failing to meet their obligations to support and protect victims. Moreover, the current text of the Directive is not going far enough to ensure effective support and protection to victims. VSE believes that the revision of the Directive has the power to strengthen existing rights, establish clearer obligations for Member States and establish new rights for victims.

VSE believes that this can be done through:

  • Strengthening existing rights with clear, more detailed drafting;
  • Developing systemic solutions in particular through a national coordination system to improve communication, support, planning and oversight;
  • Empowering States, victims and organisations to ensure proper implementation through evidence, data and enforcement.

VSE advocates for actions to focus in particular on priority issues relating to information, support, reporting, justice, protection, coordination and other cross cutting issues.

We count on the Commission to set ambitious goals with stronger rights for victims and obligations for Member States. The Commission is foreseen to adopt a legislative proposal by the end of 2022, and VSE stands ready to support the Commission, Member States and civil society organisations to ensure that the EU rights first established 20 years ago, become a reality for all in the EU.

EU public consultation on child sexual abuse and exploitation

The European Commission recently launched two public consultations in regard to EU legislative developments to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The Commission moreover adopted a proposal for a Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse on 11 May 2022 aimed at combatting child sexual abuse online. It is also assessing whether the text of the EU Directive 2011/93 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography should be revised.

These consultations are not only an opportunity to share your national views and the situation on the ground, but it also allows to play an active role in influencing the upcoming EU legislative initiatives relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation matters. These initiatives which will ultimately influence the national legislation in all Member States and, as such, impact on your work with victims. We therefore strongly encourage you to submit an individual answer to these consultations.

Please find below a summary of the two consultations related to child sexual abuse and exploitation that are currently open for feedback:

Combating child sexual abuse – review of EU rules

Sexual abuse and exploitation of children are serious crimes, which produce life-long consequences for victims. Combating these crimes, both offline and online, is a high priority and to do so a better response is required.

As announced in the EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, the Commission will carry out a study to:

  • assess the implementation of EU Directive 2011/93 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • identify legislative gaps, best practice and priority actions at EU level.

Currently, a public consultation in relation to the potential review of the Directive 2011/93/EU is open.

Deadline: 13 July 2022

Fighting child sexual abuse: detection, removal and reporting of illegal content online

Child sexual abuse is a heinous crime that has serious life-long consequences for victims. Due to the rapid expansion of the digital world, this crime has become truly global.

This initiative sets out the responsibilities of relevant online service providers, requiring them to detect and report child sexual abuse online and to report that material to public authorities.

The proposal for a regulation that was adopted on 11 May establishes a harmonised legal framework for preventing and combating online child sexual abuse, defines the role of service providers as to their responsibilities to detect, report and remove CSA materials (see the press release). The regulation also foresees in the creation of an EU Centre on Child Sexual Abuse in charge of assisting national authorities in implementing their tasks under the regulation and in providing support to victims.

The Commission is now receiving feedback on this proposal for a regulation.

Deadline: 4 August 2022