Directive 2012/29/EU 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
This Directive aims at approximating national legislation and practices on protection of victims, in particular during criminal proceedings. It replaces Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, which partly covers the same scope but is less detailed. The EU Member States have to implement the provisions into their national laws by 16 November 2015.
Besides strengthening the rights and obligations compared to the Framework Decision, the Directive brings significant added value since it contains more concrete and comprehensive rights for victims and clearer obligations for Member States. New rights and obligations include:
- Family members of deceased victims are defined as victims and benefit from all rights in the Directive; family members of surviving victims have the right to support and protection. Family members are widely defined and include also non-married intimate partners.
- Accessible and understandable information – All communication with victims must be made in a way that victims understand (linguistically or otherwise); an emphasis is made on child-sensitive communication.
- Access to victim support – Member States must ensure access for victims and their family members to general victim support and specialist support, in accordance with their needs. The Directive specifies the basic level of services that need to be provided. Support is not dependent on the victim having reported the crime. Member States must facilitate referrals from police to victim support organisations.
- Specialist support services must as a minimum provide shelters and targeted and integrated support for victims with specific needs, such as victims of sexual violence, victims of gender based violence and victims of violence in close relationships, including trauma support and counselling.
- Review decision not to prosecute – Victims have the right to be informed about a decision not to proceed with prosecution of the offender and will also have the entirely new right to have such decision reviewed.
- Individual assessment to identify vulnerability and special protection measures – All victims will be individually assessed to determine whether they are vulnerable to secondary or repeat victimisation or intimidation during criminal proceedings. If they have specific needs, a whole range of special measures will be put in place to protect them.
Children are always presumed vulnerable and particular attention will be paid to some categories of victims such as victims of terrorism, organised crime, human trafficking, gender-based violence, violence in close-relationships, sexual violence or exploitation, hate crime and victims with disabilities.
Reference number: 2012/29/EU
Issue date: 25-10-12
Official Journal: OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, pp. 57–73