Brussels, 19 January 2023 – Victim Support Europe (VSE) will commemorate the European Day for Victims of Crime on 20 February 2023 with an in-person event ‘Achieving Safe Justice for Victims of Crime’ at The Press Club Brussels Europe. The event, which will take place from 14:00 to 16:00 (CET), will simultaneously be broadcast live on the Brussels Press Club TV.
In 1990, 12 victim support organisations came together to establish Victim Support Europe. That same year, they declared the 22nd of February to be the European Day for Victims of Crime. Their vision was for a Europe which was united in its efforts to help every person who had fallen victim to crime.
In the 33 years since the first European Day for Victims of Crime, we have seen much progress. This has been achieved through the determined global effort of thousands of people and multiple organisations. Individuals from a variety of professions and backgrounds have supported a single cause – improving the situation of all victims of crime.
However, after 20 years of EU legislation, victims are still unable to fully exercise their rights at the national level. On this year’s Day for Victims of Crime, we call on all of you to fight for progress, to support improvements in European and national laws, and above all to make sure those laws truly help all victims of crime, no matter the crime, no matter the victim.
With the upcoming review of the 2012 Victims’ Rights Directive, the EU legislation governing the rights and services for all victims of crime, 2023 presents us with an opportunity to really make a difference to the lives of victims.
The theme for this year is “Achieving Safe Justice for Victims of Crime”. Up till now, victims have often been adversely affected on their journey for justice. VSE believes that, when evaluating whether justice has been served, one should not only focus on the efficiency and availability of fair trial rights but should rather see the process from the perspective of the victims and their well-being and safety during the legal proceedings.
“My sister was killed by Daesh at the Brussels terrorist attacks in 2016. When you become victim of a terrorist attack, your life, your values, and assurances get completely shaken up. Providing an efficient support is very complex. Justice and truth are key pillars for many victims to rebuild themselves. Yet the justice system’s approach is often incomprehensible for the victims as the priorities differ. Due to this, the risk that victims harmed by crime feel unheard, misunderstood and revictimised is real. Encouragingly, it seems an increasing number of people are willing to step up and meet the challenges. The system does not lack examples of innovation and success, but these need to become the norm. This is why we must all be involved”,said Philippe Vansteenkiste, chair of V-Europe.
Levent Altan, Executive Director of Victim Support Europe, remarked that: “… in 2021, a courageous lady gave a speech at VSE’s Annual Conference. Nina Fuchs spoke of how she had been raped while under the influence of a date rape drug, how awful her experience – reporting the crime to the police and seeking justice – was. So terrible, as she told the audience in no uncertain terms, that her experience of the criminal justice system was worse than the rape itself. This is a truly sad indictment of our justice systems, of our responses to victimisation.” .
Our event on 20 February gives victims an opportunity to share their personal stories and experiences of justice systems. It will open with a victim of 2016 Brussels Terrorist Attacks sharing his interaction with the Belgian criminal justice system and his vision for such systems to provide more supportive and victim-sensitive responses. VSE will then launch its discussion paper on “Safe Justice for Victims of a Crime”, introducing an innovative vision on the concept of safe justice. The programme will feature European policy makers, victim support workers, law enforcement officers, judges, and EU NGO representatives sharing their views on the meaning of safe justice for victims and on the requirements for successful criminal justice systems.
➡️ If you are planning to attend the event in person, please, register following this link.
➡️ The in-person event ‘Achieving Safe Justice for Victims of Crime’ will mark the opening of the VSE Action Week 2023 around the European Day for Victims of Crime. To find out more about the Action Week, please visit the dedicated webpage.
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