VICTIMS IN GENERAL – COUNCIL OF EUROPE

‘Signed in 1950 by the Council of Europe, the ECHR is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. All 47 countries forming the Council of Europe are party to the Convention, 28 of which are members of the EU. The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights, intended to protect individuals from human rights violations. Any person whose rights have been violated under the Convention by a state party may take a case to the Court. This was an innovative feature, as it gave individuals rights in an international arena. Judgments finding violations are binding on the countries concerned. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe monitors the execution of judgements. The Convention has several protocols, which amend its framework. The Treaty of Lisbon, in force since 1 December 2009, permits the EU to accede to the ECHR and a draft agreement for accession was finalised in 2013’. [Source http://eur-lex.europa.eu] In December 2014 the Court of Justice gave Opinion No. 2/2013 concluding that the draft agreement on the accession of the EU to the ECHR is not compatible with EU law.

‘This Convention puts upon States that become a Party to it the obligation to compensate the victims of intentional and violent offences resulting in bodily injury or death. The obligation to compensate is limited to offences committed on the territory of the State concerned, regardless of the nationality of the victim’. The Convention provides for a  definition of compensation, and sets principles and conditions of application. [Source: www.coe.int]

Principles of protection of victims’ human rights and dignity; Assistance, support, information and access to remedies; Mediation; Public awareness-raising on the effects of crime.

The Recommendation promotes mediation in penal matters ‘Considering the need to enhance active personal participation in criminal proceedings of the victim and the offender and others who may be affected as parties as well as the involvement of the community; Recognising the legitimate interest of victims to have a stronger voice in dealing with the consequences of their victimisation, to communicate with the offender and to obtain apology and reparation’ [Source: www.coe.int].

According to the Recommendation ‘it is necessary both to enhance the confidence of victims in criminal justice and to have adequate regard, within the criminal justice system, to the physical, psychological, material and social harm suffered by victims’. Section I.B. of the Recommendation deals with ‘economic crime’; para. 12-20 deal with provisions for the ‘liability of corporate bodies’ [Source: www.coe.int].

Measures to provide assistance to victims, especially vulnerable ones, and prevent victimization; situational prevention policy through social development; victim-offender mediation.

Recommendation to member States to review their legislation and practice in accordance with proposed guidelines in relation to police agencies, prosecution, court proceedings and questioning of the victim, compensation, and protection of privacy. Reinforcement of social norms and rehabilitation of offenders as a tool for victim-offender reconciliation.

Recommendation to member states to inform the public of its fundamental role in implementing a crime prevention policy and to encourage the public to ‘assist victims both during and after the perpetration of the offence’ assistance to victims; offender/State compensation to victims; assistance, legal aid. (Section III.D ‘A crime policy taking account of the victims’ interests’). Recommendation to member states to ‘establish contact with associations concerned with protecting the interests of victims in order to secure their support for a crime policy aimed both at fostering the reintegration of Offenders, especially through non-custodial treatment, and at making appropriate provision for victims’ (para 24).