DPP must explain if it does not prosecute
Campaigners for the victims of crime have welcomed a new EU directive that will require the Director of Public Prosecutions to explain decisions not to prosecute and offer victims the right of review.
Anne Delcassian of the European Justice for Families Alliance said the EU directive marked an important step for the victims of crime and their families.
“It means families will have to be informed why the DPP decides not to prosecute so the DPP will have to open up much more to families and that has to be a good development,” she said.
Ms Delcassian, whose sister Irene White was murdered in Dundalk in 2005, was speaking after details of the new directive were revealed by lawyer James Mac Guill.
Mr Mac Guill told a conference in Dublin organised by the alliance that the new directive would mean families and victims would become more involved in the criminal justice process.
He explained that the EU Directive on Establishing Minimum Standards of the Rights, Support and Protection of Victims of Crime was adopted by the European Parliament last month. It was also adopted by the European Council and will now have to be enacted into Irish legislation after Ireland indicated it wished to opt into the measure.
“The language of the directive is very robust – it says member states ‘shall ensure’ the rights of victims which is a marked change from the current situation here in Ireland.
Excluded from process
“Currently, the victims of crime are very much excluded from the process and almost made feel it’s a privilege for them to be kept informed on developments in the process.”
Mr Mac Guill pointed to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s strong record on victims’ rights, having brought forward two Bills to address the issue when in opposition as a cause for optimism regarding the EU directive.
Among the measures included in the directive is a requirement on the DPP to explain to the victims of crime the reason why a decision was taken not to proceed with a prosecution.
The DPP must also ensure a case is reviewed by a second official other than the person who originally examined the file if a victim decides to appeal a decision not to prosecute.