Crime victims could soon benefit from the same basic rights throughout the EU, regardless of the circumstances involved. A proposal for a new directive on this was approved on 10 July by the Parliament's civil rights and women's rights committees. The directive would also cover people affected by terrorist attacks. In addition the civil liberties committees called for anyone accused to have the right to contact a lawyer before being questioned by the police.
About the proposal
The directive would ensure all crime victims would enjoy the same basic rights. Bulgarian Liberal-Democrat Antonyia Parvanova, who is responsible for the proposal on behalf of the women's rights committee, explained: "If you happen to be a victim of crime in the EU you will be provided with a minimum set of information at your first contact with authorities, thus ensuring you can fully exercise your rights." She added that a victim who does not speak the language of the country would be provided with linguistic assistance when reporting a crime.
Another important part of the legislation is that the needs of each victim would be individually assessed. Ms Parvanova continued: "It's necessary in order to identify potential specific protection needs such as alternative accommodation for victims of violence in close relationships or targeted support services for women victims of gender-based violence."
Spanish Christian-Democrat Teresa Jiménez-Becerril, who is responsible for the proposal on behalf of the civil liberties committee, stated that the legislation would help citizens to feel safer "not only in our country but throughout Europe".
How the Parliament improved the original proposal
The Parliament and the Council provisionally agreed on a new version of the proposal on 20 June. Ms Parvanova said the Parliament had ensured stronger provisions and guarantees when it comes to the information received by the victims as well as the right to interpretation and translation and what support services victims should receive.
The agreement also reinforced the support for victims such as children or those affected by organised crime or gender-based violence, she added.
MEPs are expected to vote on the proposed directive regarding crime victims' rights during the September plenary. It will also have to be approved by the Council. Once the directive has been adopted, member states will have three years to transpose the new rules into national laws.
The right to talk to a lawyer
The civil rights committee also discussed on 10 July a draft directive on access to a lawyer and communication upon arrest. The committee adopted an amendment stating that anyone suspected or accused of a criminal offence in the EU should have the right to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible and before police questioning starts. This should include people not under arrest. The UK, Ireland and Denmark will opt out of this directive. The committee also gave Romanian Christian-Democrat Elena Oana Antonescu a mandate to start negotiations with the Council.
Discuss crime victims' rights on Twitter using the hashtag #protecthem.
Every year 30 million crimes are reported in the EU
If you also take into account unreported crimes, the number of victims could be as high as 75 million
The directive covers the victims of muggings, robberies, assault, rape, harassment, hate crime and human trafficking. It also applies to people affected by terrorist attacks.
The directive is part of a legislative package which also includes a communication on strengthening victims' rights in the EU and a regulation on the mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters