Strengthening victims’ rights in the EU
The aim of this EU law is to ensure the mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters in order to strengthen victims’ rights in the EU.
Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters (OJ L 181 of 29.6.2013)
This EU regulation establishes rules for a simple and rapid mechanism for the recognition of protection measures in civil matters ordered in EU countries.
The aim is to ensure that, without going through time-consuming procedures, victims of (for example domestic) violence or persons whose physical and/or psychological integrity or liberty is at risk and who benefit from a protection measure taken in one EU country benefit from the same level of protection in other EU countries should they move or travel.
A protection measure in one EU country is designed to protect victims of violence (for example domestic violence, stalking or violence against children) if that person’s physical and/or psychological integrity or liberty is at risk.
Protection measures are issued by a judicial or other authority upon request of the person at risk. Many of them are ordered without the person causing the risk being summoned to appear, in particular in case of urgency procedures.
More people are moving or travelling abroad. It is therefore extremely important to ensure that such temporary protection provided in one EU country is maintained when a person travels or moves to another EU country without having to go through time-consuming procedures.
A standardised multilingual certificate is designed to speed up the process by ensuring that the EU country to which the person at risk has gone to will recognise the protection measure issued by the first EU country without any intermediate formalities.
The certificate contains all information relevant for recognition and, where applicable, enforcement of the protection measure. The way it is designed to work is as follows:
the competent authority of the first country issues the certificate to the protected person and brings it to the notice of the person causing the risk (a translation of this certificate may also be provided upon request by the protected person);
the protected person provides the certificate and a copy of the protection measure to the competent authorities of the second country which then ensures its enforcement by adjusting the factual elements of the protection measure, if needed.
Regulation (EU) No 606/2013
Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA (OJ L 315 of 14.11.2012).
This directive replaces the provisions of Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings. In seeks to promote the following: the right to dignity, life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security, respect for private and family life, the right to property, the principle of non-discrimination, the principle of equality between women and men, the rights of the child, the elderly and persons with disabilities and the right to a fair trial, namely to establish minimum standards on the protection of victims of crime at the EU level.
Compensation for victims of crime in other EU countries
Directive 2004/80/EC — relating to compensation to crime victims
It sets up a system of cooperation to help victims of crime get compensation in situations regardless of where in the European Union (EU) the crime was committed.
The system operates on the basis of EU countries’ national compensation schemes for victims of violent intentional crime committed on their own territories.
The directive has two main elements.
It requires all EU countries to have a compensation scheme for victims of violent intentional crime committed on their territories. The organisation and operation of such schemes is left to the discretion of each EU country.
It sets up an EU-wide cooperation system based on those national schemes.
Guaranteeing adequate compensation
Ensuring adequate compensation for victims can be difficult either because:
the offender does not have the necessary financial resources; or
it has not been possible to identify or prosecute the offender (the possibility of obtaining compensation from the offender is dealt with in Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime).
The directive requires that victims:
be compensated irrespective of their country of residence or the EU country in which the crime was committed;
receive fair and appropriate compensation — the exact amount is left to the discretion of the EU country in which the crime was committed.
All EU countries were required to set up national schemes offering fair and appropriate compensation by 1 July 2005. The directive sets up a system of cooperation between national authorities to facilitate access to compensation for victims throughout the EU:
Victims of crimes committed in an EU country other than the one in which they usually live may ask an authority in the country in which they live (assisting authority) for information on how to apply for compensation.
That national authority then transmits the application directly to the national authority of the EU country in which the crime was committed (deciding authority), which is responsible for assessing the application and paying out the compensation.
All communication must be carried out in the language of the deciding country. The European Commission has drawn up standard forms for the transmission of applications and decisions relating to compensation to victims.
The directive creates a system of central contact points in each EU country to facilitate cooperation in cross-border situations which meet regularly. Additional information is available on the website of the European e-Justice Portal.
It entered into force on 26 August 2004. EU countries had to incorporate it in national law by 1 January 2006.
Council Directive 2004/80/EC of 29 April 2004 relating to compensation to crime victims (OJ L 261, 6.8.2004, pp. 15-18)
Commission Decision 2006/337/EC of 19 April 2006 establishing standard forms for the transmission of applications and decisions pursuant to Council Directive 2004/80/EC relating to compensation to crime victims (OJ L 125, 12.5.2006, pp. 25-30)
Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 20 01/220/JHA (OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, pp. 57-73)
European protection order — supporting crime victims EU-wide
Directive 2011/99/EU — European protection order
It allows victims of violence, notably domestic violence and stalking, to continue to enjoy protection from offenders when they move to another EU country.
It sets out rules allowing a judge or equivalent authority in one EU country to issue a European protection order when the protected person moves to another EU country.
It works in tandem with Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 which introduces a simple process of certification so that an order issued in one EU country can be quickly and easily recognised in another.
To issue a European protection order, there must be an existing national protection measure in place in that EU country that imposes one or more of the following bans or restrictions on the person causing the protected person danger:
a ban on entering certain places or defined areas where the protected person lives or visits,
a ban or a limit on contact, in any form, with the protected person, including by phone, electronic or ordinary mail, fax or any other means; or
a ban or restriction on approaching the protected person closer than a set distance.
Issuing an order
There are several conditions including that:
the protected person decides to live or stay, or already lives or stays, in another EU country,
the protected person themselves requests the order,
the person causing danger has the right to be heard and to challenge the protection measure, if they did not have the right to do so before the adoption of the original protection measure.
The order can be requested in either the EU country where the protected person currently lives or stays (executing country) or the one in which the order will be issued (issuing country).
Non-recognition of an order
The executing country can refuse to recognise an order for a number of reasons including:
the order is not complete or has not been completed within the time-frame set out by the executing country,
the protection measure relates to an act which is not a criminal offence in the executing country,
the protection measure does not impose one or more of the bans or restrictions set out above
If the executing country refuses to recognise the order they must:
inform promptly the protected person and the issuing country that the order has not been recognised and told the reasons why,
inform the protected person about the possibility of requesting a protection measure under its national law,
inform the protected person of any grounds of appeal against the decision under its national law.
Enforcing an order
The executing country is responsible for taking and enforcing measures to carry out the order. If the order is breached it can:
impose criminal penalties and any other measure if the breach is a criminal offence in that country,
take any non-criminal decisions related to the breach,
take any urgent and temporary measure to end the breach prior to any subsequent decision by the issuing country.
It entered into force on 10 January 2012. EU countries had to incorporate it into their national law by 11 January 2015.
Directive 2011/99/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the European protection order (OJ L 338, 21.12.2011, pp. 2–18)
Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters (OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, pp. 4–12)
Better protection for victims in criminal proceedings
Directive 2012/29/EU – minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime
Known as the Victims’ Directive, it reinforces existing national measures with EU-wide minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime in every EU country.
Victims must have the right to:
understand and to be understood during contact with an authority (for example plain and simple language);
receive information from the first contact with an authority;
make a formal complaint and receive written acknowledgement;
interpretation and translation (at least during interviews/questioning of the victim);
receive information about the case’s progress;
access victim support services.
Its main goals are to ensure that victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and may participate in criminal proceedings wherever the damage occurred in the EU.
Every EU country must ensure that victims of crime are recognised and treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner according to their individual needs and without any discrimination (for example based on nationality, resident status, race, religion, age, gender, etc.).
The directive lays down minimum standards for all victims of all crimes regardless of victims’ nationality or residence status. As soon as a crime is committed or criminal proceedings take place in the EU, the victim must be granted the rights established by the victims’ directive. Under the directive, family members of deceased victims are considered victims themselves.
The directive establishes the following rights.
These victims must have the right to:
have their case heard in court;
review a court’s decision not to prosecute;
have their expenses reimbursed;
receive legal aid;
recover stolen property.
National authorities must minimise the difficulties faced when the victim is a resident of an EU country other than that where the offence was committed.
It entered into force on 15 November 2012. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 16 November 2015.
The directive replaces Council Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings (2001/220/JHA).
For more information see ‘Victims’ on the European Commission’s website.
Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA (OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, pp. 57–73)
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