Commissioner of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, spoke at Victim Support Europe’s conference at the European Parliament on 9th of November. The Conference, hosted by Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, MEP and co-hosted by Axel Voss, MEP, titled “Putting victims’ rights into practice: where are we?”
The conference focused on the Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime that must be implemented by 16 November this year. Attention was given by different speakers on how the Directive can meet the needs of victims, what problems victims are facing and what governments must do to ensure victims have rights.
Commisioner Jourova spoke about the expectations and the challenges that arise from the new EU rules on victims’ rights. Commissioner Jourova also expressed her gratitude to those present that have contributed to the success of the new law.
Commissioner Jourova explained that the new EU rules apply if the crime was committed in the European Union or if the proceedings take place in the European Union. Victims’ rights apply without discrimination and independently of people’s origin and residence status. This means that all victims of crime, including undocumented migrants, should have access to justice – and should get the support and protection they need. The Commissioner was clear that the new rights are set out clearly and precisely in the Directive. She stated:
Citizens can invoke these rights directly before the national courts – even if the new rules are not correctly transposed into national law.
Commission Jourova also pointed to how national governments will benefit from higher rates of reported crimes, and a higher level of trust in their judicial systems. Citizens will know that if they fall victim to a crime they will get the help and support they need, even outside their home country. The European Union will benefit from a safer and more consistent area of justice.
The Member States must transpose the EU rules on time. Many countries are on a good path. Five countries have confirmed that they have transposed the Directive. Many more have part of the new rules in place. The Commissioner called upon those countries that have not yet fully transposed the EU rules on victims’ rights to do so as soon as possible.
She also pointed to the huge task ahead for civil society, including the victims support organisations, to support victims and to report back on the situation on the ground. The Commissioner stated: “You are best placed to do that. And we will actively support you carry on the good work.”
The implementation of the Victims’ Rights Directive is one of my key priorities for 2016.
On 16 November 2015, The Commissioner will present an Enforcement strategy of the Victims’ Rights Directive and will look at legal as well as political actions.
Commissioner Jourova will further encourage better cooperation among the Member States on cross-border compensation of victims and sees this can be done through Victim Support Europe, the European Victims’ Network.
I believe that only by joining forces we can realise the full potential of the EU rules on victims’ rights. This is only the beginning of a longer process, a process that can change the lives of millions of victims.