Victims of crime to get explicit rights under new law announces Laois TD and Justice Minister Flanagan

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Crime Portlaoise Laois

Portlaoise Courthouse on Main Street.

Crime victims in Laois and the rest of the country will have explicit right to information from the Gardaí along with other explicit righs from the Gardaí under new Irish law announced and welcomed by Laois TD and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan

The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016 has now passed all stages in both houses of the Oireachtas. Minister Flanagan highlighted its significance.

 “This is a very significant Bill which gives effect to important EU protections for victims.  For the first time in Irish law, the rights of victims are explicitly recognised.  This provides legal rights to victims in respect of the information and support they need to help them through what is so often a very traumatic time when they have directly experienced criminality,” he said in a statement

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 range of services and entitlements victims may access from their first contact with the Garda Síochána.
  • The right to receive a written acknowledgement of the making of the complaint 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 it is necessary to enable victims to understand and be understood in their participation in the criminal justice process. 
 
The Government says the legislation focuses on victims as individuals assessing the specific protection needs of each victim and providing the necessary supports. 

 Special measures which may be available to a victim following assessment 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, the possibility of giving evidence through live television link or from behind a screen will be extended to all victims who would benefit from such measures.  The right to give a victim 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.

The Bill fulfils a commitment in the Programme for Government to victims of crime and their families. It transposes 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.