While Directive 2012/29/EU aims at protecting all victims of criminal offences, and especially the more vulnerable, and at strengthening their access to justice, there is at least a wide group of victims – i.e., victims of corporate crime and corporate violence – whose specific vulnerability is not generally taken into account by national legislation and law enforcement agencies.
“Corporate crime” means any crime committed on behalf of a corporation, and, amongst this kind of offences, corporate violence designates criminal offences committed by corporations in the course of their legitimate activity, which result in harms to natural persons health, integrity, or life. Examples of this form of “violence” are: negative effects on health and life expectancy due to environmental laws violations, sale of unsafe products causing damages to consumers health, and injuries or death caused by lack of compliance with workplace safety laws.
Victims of corporate violence are vulnerable. For instance, the asymmetry of information and of means between individual victims and corporate offenders may have heavy repercussions on access to justice and fair judicial decisions, and the long-lasting effects on their health caused by this sort of violence may require a kind of support that public agencies are not adequately prepared to provide.
These victims are not a minority. The crossing of the pertinent Eurostat data demonstrates that corporate violence effects within EU are as prevalent as violent criminality. Official statistics provide ample evidence of the vast and trans-boundary nature of this victimisation and, moreover, the number of victims of corporate violence (environmental crimes, product safety-related crimes, etc.) will grow dramatically in the future, facing increasingly complex claims for justice also due to long latency periods typical of exposure to toxic agents. Not to mention the million victims of financial frauds and other corporate crimes.
Corporate violence is not a form of direct interpersonal violence; nonetheless, it has a great social impact due to its diffusion, as well as to the nature and width of the subsequent harms to life, health and physical integrity.
The Project aims at contributing to the implementation of the Directive 2012/29/EU and to a more victim-sensitive awareness in balance with due process safeguards, while focusing on this neglected, yet relevant, area of victimisation.
Environmental crimes, food and and drugs safety violations have been chosen as paramount areas of research in the field of corporate victims’ rights and protection.
Amongst the aims of the project there is rising awareness of rights and specific needs of victims of corporate violence at all social and institutional levels, and specifically amongst law practitioners across EU. The training of people who professionally come into contact with victims of corporate violence is therefore a main objective of this project. Such training will be aimed at promptly recognizing this kind of victim and dealing with them in a sensitive way; best assessing their peculiar needs; addressing their specific problems in accessing justice; supporting them. Finally, the action plan is conceived to foster corporate social responsibility and reduce controversy loads, while enhancing the victims’ chances of fair compensation and restorations.
Target groups of the project therefore are: enforcement officers, lawyers, victim support agencies, restorative justice services, victim organizations, victims, and the general public at large. Corporations constitute a quite relevant intermediate target group, also for the purpose of victimisation prevention and of the implementation of a responsive corporate social responsibility.
The multiple purpose mentioned above demands interdisciplinarity and a multi-level strategy. Due to such an approach, law, criminology, victimology and social sciences interact throughout the project phases. The international, European and national perspectives are taken simultaneously into account, because of the transnational nature of the problem: on one hand, corporate offenders are often multinational corporations; on the other, diffusive harms to life, health, personal integrity may spread over several countries (e.g. cross-border pollution, waste dumping, import/export of contaminated food, etc.).
Qualitative empirical research helps exploring the individual assessment of victims protection needs with regards to victims of corporate violence.
Training methods include play-roles, law & humanities teaching process, victim impact statements and other respectful forms of victims’ voluntary involvement.
The implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU is also pursued through the drafting of guidelines for all relevant actors involved in victims support and protection, such as law enforcement agencies and court staff, lawyers, victim services and restorative justice services, as well as for national lawmakers and corporations.
The possible beneficial impact of responsive regulation and restorative justice approaches for victims of corporate violence in terms of reparation, restoration and compensation will be also explored, following victims guarantees according to the Directive.
The dissemination of information, methodology (through replicable means) and guidelines, together with the training of professionals, are the core of a larger programme to raise public awareness, the implementation of which you’ll be able to follow on this website.
So follow our itinerary toward a more victim-sensitive culture at all social and institutional levels: as a victim, as a citizen, as a corporate employee you can always make the difference!