Proposed EU legislation for better protection of crime victims

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has an explicit competence to legislate on the rights of victims of crime. Thus, the European Commission is proposing a package of measures to ensure a minimum level of rights, support and protection for victims across the EU, no matter where they come from or live.

The proposal will reinforce existing national measures with EU-wide minimum standards, so that any victim can rely on the same basic level of rights, whatever their nationality and wherever in the EU the crime takes place. With regard to the sort of crime, a mugging, robbery, home break-in, assault, rape, harassment, hate crime, terrorist attack, or human trafficking, all victims share the same basic needs: to be recognised and treated with respect and dignity, receive protection and support for their physical integrity and their property, and have access to justice and compensation.

The proposed Directive on minimum standards for victims will ensure that in all 27 EU countries:

  • victims are treated with respect and police, prosecutors and judges are trained in how to properly deal with them;
  • victims get information on their rights and their case in a way they understand;
  • victim support exists in every Member State;
  • victims can participate in proceedings if they want and are helped to attend the trial;
  • vulnerable victims are identified – such as children, victims of rape, or those with disabilities – and they are properly protected;
  • victims are protected while police investigate the crime and during court proceedings.

The Commission is also proposing a Regulation on mutual recognition of civil law protection measures in order to protect victims of violence from any further harm by their attacker. It will ensure that victims of violence (such as domestic violence) can still rely on restraint or protection orders issued against the perpetrator if they travel or move to another EU country.

The new measures to enhance the protection of victims are part of the follow-up the Commission is giving to the EU Citizenship Report 2010. Besides, minimum rules for victims are part of the EU's broader objective to build a European area of justice, so that people can rely on the same level of basic rights and have confidence in the justice system wherever they are in the EU.