The Victims’ Rights Directive transposition: securing protection & support for migrant victims

Today we are happy to publish our technical input to the Government on its legal proposals to transpose the EU’s Victims’ Rights Directive! The following is taken from the document’s Introduction, and the full document is now on our Publications page, under ‘Policy Input’:

On 24th October 2014 the Ministry for Justice published the ‘Victims of Crime Bill’, “to make provision for the rights, support and protection of victims, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” The Bill’s primary aim is to transpose the EU’s Victims’ Rights Directive by introducing the legal and administrative reforms necessary to ensure national compliance with the Directive’s provisions.

The purpose of the EU Directive is to ensure that victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and are able to participate in criminal proceedings.aditusinputvictimofcrime_cover This ambitious Directive provides a significant opportunity to advance access to rights and justice for migrant victims. Indeed, this Directive makes it very clear that all the rights and minimum standards set out apply to all victims of crime irrespective of their residence status.

The rights set out in the Directive are not made conditional on the victim having legal residence status on European Union territory or on the victim’s citizenship or nationality. Thus, third-country nationals and stateless persons who have been victims of crime on EU territory should benefit from these rights without discrimination.

Recital 9 of the Directive furthermore specifies that “victims of crime should be recognized and treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner without discrimination of any kind based on any ground such as race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief (…)”.

Migrants, by definition, tend to be prone to vulnerability and exclusion. Firstly, they are more susceptible to be targeted by criminals, particularly in relation to racist and xenophobic hate crimes and crimes against undocumented migrant women and girls. This latter group are often exposed to gender-based violence, including sexual and labour exploitation. Secondly, migrants are less likely to have sufficient knowledge of the host society’s legal and institutional system for them to seek adequate redress and reparation. Thirdly, they usually don’t have the financial resources to bear the cost of criminal or administrative remedy proceedings.

aditus foundation welcomes Malta’s efforts to transpose the EU Directive within the deadline, and to provide a true status for victims of crime in Malta. aditus also endorses the Position Paper released on 11th November by Victim Support Malta (VSM), which points out important shortcomings of the Bill and suggest the improvements that could be made.

This present document expresses some specific concerns on how the Directive, and consequently the Bill, should be read to take into account migration-specific situations. It is modelled on aditus’ experiences working with migrants, coupled with several capacity-building sessions with the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), of which aditus foundation is an active member.