Commission highlights ‘gaps’ in crime victims Bill
State failed to meet deadline 15 months ago to transpose EU victims directive into law
The new crime victims Bill needed improvement if the most vulnerable victims were to be protected, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said
Protections and supports for victims of crime must be enshrined in legislation if the State is to be in compliance with EU law, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said.
In a report on the Victims of Crime Bill, which is due to be debated in the Dáil Tuesday, the commission highlights what it says are gaps in the protection of crime victims.
The State has already missed a November 2015 deadline to transpose into law the European Union’s victims’ directive, which sets out minimum standards of protection, the commission said.
However, the new Bill needed improvement if the most vulnerable victims, including children and those suffering domestic violence, were to be protected.
The commission has set out 12 recommendations to address the gaps in the new legislation.
These include the expansion of the definition of “victim” to ensure an individual may be considered a victim whether or not an offender is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted.
The commission recommended the establishment of a single point of contact for victims to register a complaint about their treatment in the criminal justice system.
Where a decision is taken to provide a statutory basis for restorative justice in Ireland, safeguards of the directive should be incorporated, it said.
The State should take measures to encourage the reporting of crimes and to ensure that the provision of supports services are made available to victims of crime who do not make a formal complaint . It should also ensure that all professionals in regular contact with victims of crime receive regular training.
Improvements were needed to encourage the reporting of hate crimes and to provide assistance to victims of hate crimes. Special measures to support victims in providing information, such as allowing victims of sexual violence to be interviewed by a person of the same sex should be implemented, it said.
Certain groups of victims were at particular risk of repeat and secondary victimisation, intimidation and retaliation including victims of trafficking, victims of hate crimes, children, and victims of domestic violence. The commission noted reports published last year which found there had been 4,831 unmet requests for emergency accommodation in 2014.
Chief commissioner Emily Logan said the Bill could make a significant contribution towards protecting victims of crime. “This is about ensuring victims are treated consistently, professionally, with dignity and respect, whatever the circumstances of the crime they have been exposed to.”