Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced the passage of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill which gives effect to important EU rights for victims of crime.
Under the bill passed on 18 October 2018 the rights of victims are explicitly recognised for the first time in Irish law, in particular in relation to information and support.
Victims also win the right of review of a decision not to prosecute.
Under the proposed bill, a victim of a crime will have rights including;
- The right to receive comprehensive information on the criminal justice system and their role within it and the services and entitlements victims may access from their initial contact with An Garda Síochána.
- The right to receive a written acknowledgement of a complaint made by the victim.
- The right to be provided with information concerning the progress of the investigation and any court proceedings.
- The right to be informed of any decision not to institute a prosecution in relation to the offence committed against them and the right to request a review of that decision.
- The right to receive information on the release, temporary release, or escape from custody of an offender who is serving a sentence for an offence committed against the victim.
- The right to receive information in clear and concise language and to interpretation and translation where neccessary.
- Solicitor and Minister of State for Justice and Equality, David Stanton said “The needs of victims can vary greatly which is why this legislation focuses on victims as individuals assessing the specific protection needs of each victim and providing the necessary supports. I would like to recognise the constructive approach that all sides of the Oireachtas took in ensuring that this legislation passed, with all of those specific protections for victims included.”
Special measures include advice on personal safety, including safety and barring orders; applications to remand an alleged offender in custody or to seek conditions on bail; and interviews being carried out in specially adapted premises, by specially trained persons or by persons of the same sex as the victim.
In court proceedings, evidence-giving through live television link or from behind a screen will be extended to all victims. The right to give an impact statement will also be extended to all victims.
“This Bill is evidence of the Government‘s commitment to supporting victims of crime and places the needs of victims and their families at the heart of the criminal justice process. This is an important step for us to take, both in law and as a society,” Minister Flanagan concluded.