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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, p. 57–73 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)
Special edition in Croatian: Chapter 19 Volume 015 P. 58 - 74

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14.11.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

L 315/57


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

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 82(2) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,

After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (1),

Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions (2),

Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure (3),

Whereas:

(1)

The Union has set itself the objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice, the cornerstone of which is the mutual recognition of judicial decisions in civil and criminal matters.

(2)

The Union is committed to the protection of, and to the establishment of minimum standards in regard to, victims of crime and the Council has adopted Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings (4). Under the Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens (5), adopted by the European Council at its meeting on 10 and 11 December 2009, the Commission and the Member States were asked to examine how to improve legislation and practical support measures for the protection of victims, with particular attention paid to, support for and recognition of, all victims, including for victims of terrorism, as a priority.

(3)

Article 82(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides for the establishment of minimum rules applicable in the Member States to facilitate mutual recognition of judgments and judicial decisions and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters having a cross-border dimension, in particular with regard to the rights of victims of crime.

(4)

In its resolution of 10 June 2011 on a roadmap for strengthening the rights and protection of victims, in particular in criminal proceedings (6) (‘the Budapest roadmap’), the Council stated that action should be taken at Union level in order to strengthen the rights of, support for, and protection of victims of crime. To that end and in accordance with that resolution, this Directive aims to revise and supplement the principles set out in Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA and to take significant steps forward in the level of protection of victims throughout the Union, in particular within the framework of criminal proceedings.

(5)

The resolution of the European Parliament of 26 November 2009 on the elimination of violence against women (7) called on the Member States to improve their national laws and policies to combat all forms of violence against women and to act in order to tackle the causes of violence against women, not least by employing preventive measures, and called on the Union to guarantee the right to assistance and support for all victims of violence.

(6)

In its resolution of 5 April 2011 on priorities and outline of a new EU policy framework to fight violence against women (8) the European Parliament proposed a strategy to combat violence against women, domestic violence and female genital mutilation as a basis for future legislative criminal-law instruments against gender-based violence including a framework to fight violence against women (policy, prevention, protection, prosecution, provision and partnership) to be followed up by a Union action plan. International regulation within this area includes the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted on 18 December 1979, the CEDAW Committee's recommendations and decisions, and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence adopted on 7 April 2011.

(7)

Directive 2011/99/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the European protection order (9) establishes a mechanism for the mutual recognition of protection measures in criminal matters between Member States. Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims (10) and Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (11) address, inter alia, the specific needs of the particular categories of victims of human trafficking, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography.

(8)

Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA of 13 June 2002 on combating terrorism (12) recognises that terrorism constitutes one of the most serious violations of the principles on which the Union is based, including the principle of democracy, and confirms that it constitutes, inter alia, a threat to the free exercise of human rights.

(9)

Crime is a wrong against society as well as a violation of the individual rights of victims. As such, victims of crime should be recognised 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, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, residence status or health. In all contacts with a competent authority operating within the context of criminal proceedings, and any service coming into contact with victims, such as victim support or restorative justice services, the personal situation and immediate needs, age, gender, possible disability and maturity of victims of crime should be taken into account while fully respecting their physical, mental and moral integrity. Victims of crime should be protected from secondary and repeat victimisation, from intimidation and from retaliation, should receive appropriate support to facilitate their recovery and should be provided with sufficient access to justice.

(10)

This Directive does not address the conditions of the residence of victims of crime in the territory of the Member States. Member States should take the necessary measures to ensure that the rights set out in this Directive are not made conditional on the victim's residence status in their territory or on the victim's citizenship or nationality. Reporting a crime and participating in criminal proceedings do not create any rights regarding the residence status of the victim.

(11)

This Directive lays down minimum rules. Member States may extend the rights set out in this Directive in order to provide a higher level of protection.

(12)

The rights set out in this Directive are without prejudice to the rights of the offender. The term ‘offender’ refers to a person who has been convicted of a crime. However, for the purposes of this Directive, it also refers to a suspected or accused person before any acknowledgement of guilt or conviction, and it is without prejudice to the presumption of innocence.

(13)

This Directive applies in relation to criminal offences committed in the Union and to criminal proceedings that take place in the Union. It confers rights on victims of extra-territorial offences only in relation to criminal proceedings that take place in the Union. Complaints made to competent authorities outside the Union, such as embassies, do not trigger the obligations set out in this Directive.

(14)

In applying this Directive, children's best interests must be a primary consideration, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted on 20 November 1989. Child victims should be considered and treated as the full bearers of rights set out in this Directive and should be entitled to exercise those rights in a manner that takes into account their capacity to form their own views.

(15)

In applying this Directive, Member States should ensure that victims with disabilities are able to benefit fully from the rights set out in this Directive, on an equal basis with others, including by facilitating the accessibility to premises where criminal proceedings are conducted and access to information.

(16)

Victims of terrorism have suffered attacks that are intended ultimately to harm society. They may therefore need special attention, support and protection due to the particular nature of the crime that has been committed against them. Victims of terrorism can be under significant public scrutiny and often need social recognition and respectful treatment by society. Member States should therefore take particular account of the needs of victims of terrorism, and should seek to protect their dignity and security.

(17)

Violence that is directed against a person because of that person's gender, gender identity or gender expression or that affects persons of a particular gender disproportionately, is understood as gender-based violence. It may result in physical, sexual, emotional or psychological harm, or economic loss, to the victim. Gender-based violence is understood to be a form of discrimination and a violation of the fundamental freedoms of the victim and includes violence in close relationships, sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment), trafficking in human beings, slavery, and different forms of harmful practices, such as forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour crimes’. Women victims of gender-based violence and their children often require special support and protection because of the high risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation connected with such violence.

(18)

Where violence is committed in a close relationship, it is committed by a person who is a current or former spouse, or partner or other family member of the victim, whether or not the offender shares or has shared the same household with the victim. Such violence could cover physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence and could result in physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss. Violence in close relationships is a serious and often hidden social problem which could cause systematic psychological and physical trauma with severe consequences because the offender is a person whom the victim should be able to trust. Victims of violence in close relationships may therefore be in need of special protection measures. Women are affected disproportionately by this type of violence and the situation can be worse if the woman is dependent on the offender economically, socially or as regards her right to residence.

(19)

A person should be considered to be a victim regardless of whether an offender is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between them. It is possible that family members of victims are also harmed as a result of the crime. In particular, family members of a person whose death has been directly caused by a criminal offence could be harmed as a result of the crime. Such family members, who are indirect victims of the crime, should therefore also benefit from protection under this Directive. However, Member States should be able to establish procedures to limit the number of family members who can benefit from the rights set out in this Directive. In the case of a child, the child or, unless this is not in the best interests of the child, the holder of parental responsibilty on behalf of the child, should be entitled to exercise the rights set out in this Directive. This Directive is without prejudice to any national administrative procedures required to establish that a person is a victim.

(20)

The role of victims in the criminal justice system and whether they can participate actively in criminal proceedings vary across Member States, depending on the national system, and is determined by one or more of the following criteria: whether the national system provides for a legal status as a party to criminal proceedings; whether the victim is under a legal requirement or is requested to participate actively in criminal proceedings, for example as a witness; and/or whether the victim has a legal entitlement under national law to participate actively in criminal proceedings and is seeking to do so, where the national system does not provide that victims have the legal status of a party to the criminal proceedings. Member States should determine which of those criteria apply to determine the scope of rights set out in this Directive where there are references to the role of the victim in the relevant criminal justice system.

(21)

Information and advice provided by competent authorities, victim support services and restorative justice services should, as far as possible, be given by means of a range of media and in a manner which can be understood by the victim. Such information and advice should be provided in simple and accessible language. It should also be ensured that the victim can be understood during proceedings. In this respect, the victim's knowledge of the language used to provide information, age, maturity, intellectual and emotional capacity, literacy and any mental or physical impairment should be taken into account. Particular account should be taken of difficulties in understanding or communicating which may be due to a disability of some kind, such as hearing or speech impediments. Equally, limitations on a victim's ability to communicate information should be taken into account during criminal proceedings.

(22)

The moment when a complaint is made should, for the purposes of this Directive, be considered as falling within the context of the criminal proceedings. This should also include situations where authorities initiate criminal proceedings ex officio as a result of a criminal offence suffered by a victim.

(23)

Information about reimbursement of expenses should be provided, from the time of the first contact with a competent authority, for example in a leaflet stating the basic conditions for such reimbursement of expenses. Member States should not be required, at this early stage of the criminal proceedings, to decide on whether the victim concerned fulfils the conditions for reimbursement of expenses.

(24)

When reporting a crime, victims should receive a written acknowledgement of their complaint from the police, stating the basic elements of the crime, such as the type of crime, the time and place, and any damage or harm caused by the crime. This acknowledgement should include a file number and the time and place for reporting of the crime in order to serve as evidence that the crime has been reported, for example in relation to insurance claims.

(25)

Without prejudice to rules relating to limitation periods, the delayed reporting of a criminal offence due to fear of retaliation, humiliation or stigmatisation should not result in refusing acknowledgement of the victim's complaint.

(26)

When providing information, sufficient detail should be given to ensure that victims are treated in a respectful manner and to enable them to make informed decisions about their participation in proceedings. In this respect, information allowing the victim to know about the current status of any proceedings is particularly important. This is equally relevant for information to enable a victim to decide whether to request a review of a decision not to prosecute. Unless otherwise required, it should be possible to provide the information communicated to the victim orally or in writing, including through electronic means.

(27)

Information to a victim should be provided to the last known correspondence address or electronic contact details given to the competent authority by the victim. In exceptional cases, for example due to the high number of victims involved in a case, it should be possible to provide information through the press, through an official website of the competent authority or through a similar communication channel.

(28)

Member States should not be obliged to provide information where disclosure of that information could affect the proper handling of a case or harm a given case or person, or if they consider it contrary to the essential interests of their security.

(29)

Competent authorities should ensure that victims receive updated contact details for communication about their case unless the victim has expressed a wish not to receive such information.

(30)

A reference to a ‘decision’ in the context of the right to information, interpretation and translation, should be understood only as a reference to the finding of guilt or otherwise ending criminal proceedings. The reasons for that decision should be provided to the victim through a copy of the document which contains that decision or through a brief summary of them.

(31)

The right to information about the time and place of a trial resulting from the complaint with regard to a criminal offence suffered by the victim should also apply to information about the time and place of a hearing related to an appeal of a judgment in the case.

(32)

Specific information about the release or the escape of the offender should be given to victims, upon request, at least in cases where there might be a danger or an identified risk of harm to the victims, unless there is an identified risk of harm to the offender which would result from the notification. Where there is an identified risk of harm to the offender which would result from the notification, the competent authority should take into account all other risks when determining an appropriate action. The reference to ‘identified risk of harm to the victims’ should cover such factors as the nature and severity of the crime and the risk of retaliation. Therefore, it should not be applied to those situations where minor offences were committed and thus where there is only a slight risk of harm to the victim.

(33)

Victims should receive information about any right to appeal of a decision to release the offender, if such a right exists in national law.

(34)

Justice cannot be effectively achieved unless victims can properly explain the circumstances of the crime and provide their evidence in a manner understandable to the competent authorities. It is equally important to ensure that victims are treated in a respectful manner and that they are able to access their rights. Interpretation should therefore be made available, free of charge, during questioning of the victim and in order to enable them to participate actively in court hearings, in accordance with the role of the victim in the relevant criminal justice system. For other aspects of criminal proceedings, the need for interpretation and translation can vary depending on specific issues, the role of the victim in the relevant criminal justice system and his or her involvement in proceedings and any specific rights they have. As such, interpretation and translation for these other cases need only be provided to the extent necessary for victims to exercise their rights.

(35)

The victim should have the right to challenge a decision finding that there is no need for interpretation or translation, in accordance with procedures in national law. That right does not entail the obligation for Member States to provide for a separate mechanism or complaint procedure in which such decision may be challenged and should not unreasonably prolong the criminal proceedings. An internal review of the decision in accordance with existing national procedures would suffice.

(36)

The fact that a victim speaks a language which is not widely spoken should not, in itself, be grounds to decide that interpretation or translation would unreasonably prolong the criminal proceedings.

(37)

Support should be available from the moment the competent authorities are aware of the victim and throughout criminal proceedings and for an appropriate time after such proceedings in accordance with the needs of the victim and the rights set out in this Directive. Support should be provided through a variety of means, without excessive formalities and through a sufficient geographical distribution across the Member State to allow all victims the opportunity to access such services. Victims who have suffered considerable harm due to the severity of the crime could require specialist support services.

(38)

Persons who are particularly vulnerable or who find themselves in situations that expose them to a particularly high risk of harm, such as persons subjected to repeat violence in close relationships, victims of gender-based violence, or persons who fall victim to other types of crime in a Member State of which they are not nationals or residents, should be provided with specialist support and legal protection. Specialist support services should be based on an integrated and targeted approach which should, in particular, take into account the specific needs of victims, the severity of the harm suffered as a result of a criminal offence, as well as the relationship between victims, offenders, children and their wider social environment. A main task of these services and their staff, which play an important role in supporting the victim to recover from and overcome potential harm or trauma as a result of a criminal offence, should be to inform victims about the rights set out in this Directive so that they can take decisions in a supportive environment that treats them with dignity, respect and sensitivity. The types of support that such specialist support services should offer could include providing shelter and safe accommodation, immediate medical support, referral to medical and forensic examination for evidence in cases of rape or sexual assault, short and long-term psychological counselling, trauma care, legal advice, advocacy and specific services for children as direct or indirect victims.

(39)

Victim support services are not required to provide extensive specialist and professional expertise themselves. If necessary, victim support services should assist victims in calling on existing professional support, such as psychologists.

(40)

Although the provision of support should not be dependent on victims making a complaint with regard to a criminal offence to a competent authority such as the police, such authorities are often best placed to inform victims of the possibility of support. Member States are therefore encouraged to establish appropriate conditions to enable the referral of victims to victim support services, including by ensuring that data protection requirements can be and are adhered to. Repeat referrals should be avoided.

(41)

The right of victims to be heard should be considered to have been fulfilled where victims are permitted to make statements or explanations in writing.

(42)

The right of child victims to be heard in criminal proceedings should not be precluded solely on the basis that the victim is a child or on the basis of that victim's age.

(43)

The right to a review of a decision not to prosecute should be understood as referring to decisions taken by prosecutors and investigative judges or law enforcement authorities such as police officers, but not to the decisions taken by courts. Any review of a decision not to prosecute should be carried out by a different person or authority to that which made the original decision, unless the initial decision not to prosecute was taken by the highest prosecuting authority, against whose decision no review can be made, in which case the review may be carried out by that same authority. The right to a review of a decision not to prosecute does not concern special procedures, such as proceedings against members of parliament or government, in relation to the exercise of their official position.

(44)

A decision ending criminal proceedings should include situations where a prosecutor decides to withdraw charges or discontinue proceedings.

(45)

A decision of the prosecutor resulting in an out-of-court settlement and thus ending criminal proceedings, excludes victims from the right to a review of a decision of the prosecutor not to prosecute, only if the settlement imposes a warning or an obligation.

(46)

Restorative justice services, including for example victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing and sentencing circles, can be of great benefit to the victim, but require safeguards to prevent secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation. Such services should therefore have as a primary consideration the interests and needs of the victim, repairing the harm done to the victim and avoiding further harm. Factors such as the nature and severity of the crime, the ensuing degree of trauma, the repeat violation of a victim's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, power imbalances, and the age, maturity or intellectual capacity of the victim, which could limit or reduce the victim's ability to make an informed choice or could prejudice a positive outcome for the victim, should be taken into consideration in referring a case to the restorative justice services and in conducting a restorative justice process. Restorative justice processes should, in principle, be confidential, unless agreed otherwise by the parties, or as required by national law due to an overriding public interest. Factors such as threats made or any forms of violence committed during the process may be considered as requiring disclosure in the public interest.

(47)

Victims should not be expected to incur expenses in relation to their participation in criminal proceedings. Member States should be required to reimburse only necessary expenses of victims in relation to their participation in criminal proceedings and should not be required to reimburse victims' legal fees. Member States should be able to impose conditions in regard to the reimbursement of expenses in national law, such as time limits for claiming reimbursement, standard rates for subsistence and travel costs and maximum daily amounts for loss of earnings. The right to reimbursement of expenses in criminal proceedings should not arise in a situation where a victim makes a statement on a criminal offence. Expenses should only be covered to the extent that the victim is obliged or requested by the competent authorities to be present and actively participate in the criminal proceedings.

(48)

Recoverable property which is seized in criminal proceedings should be returned as soon as possible to the victim of the crime, subject to exceptional circumstances, such as in a dispute concerning the ownership or where the possession of the property or the property itself is illegal. The right to have property returned should be without prejudice to its legitimate retention for the purposes of other legal proceedings.

(49)

The right to a decision on compensation from the offender and the relevant applicable procedure should also apply to victims resident in a Member State other than the Member State where the criminal offence was committed.

(50)

The obligation set out in this Directive to transmit complaints should not affect Member States' competence to institute proceedings and is without prejudice to the rules of conflict relating to the exercise of jurisdiction, as laid down in Council Framework Decision 2009/948/JHA of 30 November 2009 on prevention and settlement of conflicts of exercise of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings (13).

(51)

If the victim has left the territory of the Member State where the criminal offence was committed, that Member State should no longer be obliged to provide assistance, support and protection except for what is directly related to any criminal proceedings it is conducting regarding the criminal offence concerned, such as special protection measures during court proceedings. The Member State of the victim's residence should provide assistance, support and protection required for the victim's need to recover.

(52)

Measures should be available to protect the safety and dignity of victims and their family members from secondary and repeat victimisation, from intimidation and from retaliation, such as interim injunctions or protection or restraining orders.

(53)

The risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation by the offender or as a result of participation in criminal proceedings should be limited by carrying out proceedings in a coordinated and respectful manner, enabling victims to establish trust in authorities. Interaction with competent authorities should be as easy as possible whilst limiting the number of unnecessary interactions the victim has with them through, for example, video recording of interviews and allowing its use in court proceedings. As wide a range of measures as possible should be made available to practitioners to prevent distress to the victim during court proceedings in particular as a result of visual contact with the offender, his or her family, associates or members of the public. To that end, Member States should be encouraged to introduce, especially in relation to court buildings and police stations, feasible and practical measures enabling the facilities to include amenities such as separate entrances and waiting areas for victims. In addition, Member States should, to the extent possible, plan the criminal proceedings so that contacts between victims and their family members and offenders are avoided, such as by summoning victims and offenders to hearings at different times.

(54)

Protecting the privacy of the victim can be an important means of preventing secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation and can be achieved through a range of measures including non-disclosure or limitations on the disclosure of information concerning the identity and whereabouts of the victim. Such protection is particularly important for child victims, and includes non-disclosure of the name of the child. However, there might be cases where, exceptionally, the child can benefit from the disclosure or even widespread publication of information, for example where a child has been abducted. Measures to protect the privacy and images of victims and of their family members should always be consistent with the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, as recognised in Articles 6 and 10, respectively, of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

(55)

Some victims are particularly at risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation by the offender during criminal proceedings. It is possible that such a risk derives from the personal characteristics of the victim or the type, nature or circumstances of the crime. Only through individual assessments, carried out at the earliest opportunity, can such a risk be effectively identified. Such assessments should be carried out for all victims to determine whether they are at risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation and what special protection measures they require.

(56)

Individual assessments should take into account the personal characteristics of the victim such as his or her age, gender and gender identity or expression, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, health, disability, residence status, communication difficulties, relationship to or dependence on the offender and previous experience of crime. They should also take into account the type or nature and the circumstances of the crime such as whether it is a hate crime, a bias crime or a crime committed with a discriminatory motive, sexual violence, violence in a close relationship, whether the offender was in a position of control, whether the victim's residence is in a high crime or gang dominated area, or whether the victim's country of origin is not the Member State where the crime was committed.

(57)

Victims of human trafficking, terrorism, organised crime, violence in close relationships, sexual violence or exploitation, gender-based violence, hate crime, and victims with disabilities and child victims tend to experience a high rate of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation. Particular care should be taken when assessing whether such victims are at risk of such victimisation, intimidation and of retaliation and there should be a strong presumption that those victims will benefit from special protection measures.

(58)

Victims who have been identified as vulnerable to secondary and repeat victimisation, to intimidation and to retaliation should be offered appropriate measures to protect them during criminal proceedings. The exact nature of such measures should be determined through the individual assessment, taking into account the wish of the victim. The extent of any such measure should be determined without prejudice to the rights of the defence and in accordance with rules of judicial discretion. The victims' concerns and fears in relation to proceedings should be a key factor in determining whether they need any particular measure.

(59)

Immediate operational needs and constraints may make it impossible to ensure, for example, that the same police officer consistently interview the victim; illness, maternity or parental leave are examples of such constraints. Furthermore, premises specially designed for interviews with victims may not be available due, for example, to renovation. In the event of such operational or practical constraints, a special measure envisaged following an individual assessment may not be possible to provide on a case-by-case basis.

(60)

Where, in accordance with this Directive, a guardian or a representative is to be appointed for a child, those roles could be performed by the same person or by a legal person, an institution or an authority.

(61)

Any officials involved in criminal proceedings who are likely to come into personal contact with victims should be able to access and receive appropriate initial and ongoing training, to a level appropriate to their contact with victims, so that they are able to identify victims and their needs and deal with them in a respectful, sensitive, professional and non-discriminatory manner. Persons who are likely to be involved in the individual assessment to identify victims' specific protection needs and to determine their need for special protection measures should receive specific training on how to carry out such an assessment. Member States should ensure such training for police services and court staff. Equally, training should be promoted for lawyers, prosecutors and judges and for practitioners who provide victim support or restorative justice services. This requirement should include training on the specific support services to which victims should be referred or specialist training where their work focuses on victims with specific needs and specific psychological training, as appropriate. Where relevant, such training should be gender sensitive. Member States' actions on training should be complemented by guidelines, recommendations and exchange of best practices in accordance with the Budapest roadmap.

(62)

Member States should encourage and work closely with civil society organisations, including recognised and active non-governmental organisations working with victims of crime, in particular in policymaking initiatives, information and awareness-raising campaigns, research and education programmes and in training, as well as in monitoring and evaluating the impact of measures to support and protect victims of crime. For victims of crime to receive the proper degree of assistance, support and protection, public services should work in a coordinated manner and should be involved at all administrative levels — at Union level, and at national, regional and local level. Victims should be assisted in finding and addressing the competent authorities in order to avoid repeat referrals. Member States should consider developing ‘sole points of access’ or ‘one-stop shops’, that address victims' multiple needs when involved in criminal proceedings, including the need to receive information, assistance, support, protection and compensation.

(63)

In order to encourage and facilitate reporting of crimes and to allow victims to break the cycle of repeat victimisation, it is essential that reliable support services are available to victims and that competent authorities are prepared to respond to victims' reports in a respectful, sensitive, professional and non-discriminatory manner. This could increase victims' confidence in the criminal justice systems of Member States and reduce the number of unreported crimes. Practitioners who are likely to receive complaints from victims with regard to criminal offences should be appropriately trained to facilitate reporting of crimes, and measures should be put in place to enable third-party reporting, including by civil society organisations. It should be possible to make use of communication technology, such as e-mail, video recordings or online electronic forms for making complaints.

(64)

Systematic and adequate statistical data collection is recognised as an essential component of effective policymaking in the field of rights set out in this Directive. In order to facilitate evaluation of the application of this Directive, Member States should communicate to the Commission relevant statistical data related to the application of national procedures on victims of crime, including at least the number and type of the reported crimes and, as far as such data are known and are available, the number and age and gender of the victims. Relevant statistical data can include data recorded by the judicial authorities and by law enforcement agencies and, as far as possible, administrative data compiled by healthcare and social welfare services and by public and non-governmental victim support or restorative justice services and other organisations working with victims of crime. Judicial data can include information about reported crime, the number of cases that are investigated and persons prosecuted and sentenced. Service-based administrative data can include, as far as possible, data on how victims are using services provided by government agencies and public and private support organisations, such as the number of referrals by police to victim support services, the number of victims that request, receive or do not receive support or restorative justice.

(65)

This Directive aims to amend and expand the provisions of Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA. Since the amendments to be made are substantial in number and nature, that Framework Decision should, in the interests of clarity, be replaced in its entirety in relation to Member States participating in the adoption of this Directive.

(66)

This Directive respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In particular, it seeks to promote 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.

(67)

Since the objective of this Directive, namely to establish minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, and can therefore, by reason of its scale and potential effects, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.

(68)

Personal data processed when implementing this Directive should be protected in accordance with Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (14) and in accordance with the principles laid down in the Council of Europe Convention of 28 January 1981 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, which all Member States have ratified.

(69)

This Directive does not affect more far reaching provisions contained in other Union acts which address the specific needs of particular categories of victims, such as victims of human trafficking and victims of child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography, in a more targeted manner.

(70)

In accordance with Article 3 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, those Member States have notified their wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Directive.

(71)

In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and is not bound by it or subject to its application.

(72)

The European Data Protection Supervisor delivered an opinion on 17 October 2011 (15) based on Article 41(2) of Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data (16),

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:

CHAPTER 1

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Article 1

Objectives

1.   The purpose of this Directive is to ensure that victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and are able to participate in criminal proceedings.

Member States shall ensure that victims are recognised and treated in a respectful, sensitive, tailored, professional and non-discriminatory manner, in all contacts with victim support or restorative justice services or a competent authority, operating within the context of criminal proceedings. The rights set out in this Directive shall apply to victims in a non-discriminatory manner, including with respect to their residence status.

2.   Member States shall ensure that in the application of this Directive, where the victim is a child, the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration and shall be assessed on an individual basis. A child-sensitive approach, taking due account of the child's age, maturity, views, needs and concerns, shall prevail. The child and the holder of parental responsibility or other legal representative, if any, shall be informed of any measures or rights specifically focused on the child.

Article 2

Definitions

1.   For the purposes of this Directive the following definitions shall apply:

(a)

‘victim’ means:

(i)

a natural person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by a criminal offence;

(ii)

family members of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence and who have suffered harm as a result of that person's death;

(b)

‘family members’ means the spouse, the person who is living with the victim in a committed intimate relationship, in a joint household and on a stable and continuous basis, the relatives in direct line, the siblings and the dependants of the victim;

(c)

‘child’ means any person below 18 years of age;

(d)

‘restorative justice’ means any process whereby the victim and the offender are enabled, if they freely consent, to participate actively in the resolution of matters arising from the criminal offence through the help of an impartial third party.

2.   Member States may establish procedures:

(a)

to limit the number of family members who may benefit from the rights set out in this Directive taking into account the individual circumstances of each case; and

(b)

in relation to paragraph (1)(a)(ii), to determine which family members have priority in relation to the exercise of the rights set out in this Directive.

CHAPTER 2

PROVISION OF INFORMATION AND SUPPORT

Article 3

Right to understand and to be understood

1.   Member States shall take appropriate measures to assist victims to understand and to be understood from the first contact and during any further necessary interaction they have with a competent authority in the context of criminal proceedings, including where information is provided by that authority.

2.   Member States shall ensure that communications with victims are given in simple and accessible language, orally or in writing. Such communications shall take into account the personal characteristics of the victim including any disability which may affect the ability to understand or to be understood.

3.   Unless contrary to the interests of the victim or unless the course of proceedings would be prejudiced, Member States shall allow victims to be accompanied by a person of their choice in the first contact with a competent authority where, due to the impact of the crime, the victim requires assistance to understand or to be understood.

Article 4

Right to receive information from the first contact with a competent authority

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims are offered the following information, without unnecessary delay, from their first contact with a competent authority in order to enable them to access the rights set out in this Directive:

(a)

the type of support they can obtain and from whom, including, where relevant, basic information about access to medical support, any specialist support, including psychological support, and alternative accommodation;

(b)

the procedures for making complaints with regard to a criminal offence and their role in connection with such procedures;

(c)

how and under what conditions they can obtain protection, including protection measures;

(d)

how and under what conditions they can access legal advice, legal aid and any other sort of advice;

(e)

how and under what conditions they can access compensation;

(f)

how and under what conditions they are entitled to interpretation and translation;

(g)

if they are resident in a Member State other than that where the criminal offence was committed, any special measures, procedures or arrangements, which are available to protect their interests in the Member State where the first contact with the competent authority is made;

(h)

the available procedures for making complaints where their rights are not respected by the competent authority operating within the context of criminal proceedings;

(i)

the contact details for communications about their case;

(j)

the available restorative justice services;

(k)

how and under what conditions expenses incurred as a result of their participation in the criminal proceedings can be reimbursed.

2.   The extent or detail of information referred to in paragraph 1 may vary depending on the specific needs and personal circumstances of the victim and the type or nature of the crime. Additional details may also be provided at later stages depending on the needs of the victim and the relevance, at each stage of proceedings, of such details.

Article 5

Right of victims when making a complaint

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims receive written acknowledgement of their formal complaint made by them to the competent authority of a Member State, stating the basic elements of the criminal offence concerned.

2.   Member States shall ensure that victims who wish to make a complaint with regard to a criminal offence and who do not understand or speak the language of the competent authority be enabled to make the complaint in a language that they understand or by receiving the necessary linguistic assistance.

3.   Member States shall ensure that victims who do not understand or speak the language of the competent authority, receive translation, free of charge, of the written acknowledgement of their complaint provided for in paragraph 1, if they so request, in a language that they understand.

Article 6

Right to receive information about their case

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims are notified without unnecessary delay of their right to receive the following information about the criminal proceedings instituted as a result of the complaint with regard to a criminal offence suffered by the victim and that, upon request, they receive such information:

(a)

any decision not to proceed with or to end an investigation or not to prosecute the offender;

(b)

the time and place of the trial, and the nature of the charges against the offender.

2.   Member States shall ensure that, in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system, victims are notified without unnecessary delay of their right to receive the following information about the criminal proceedings instituted as a result of the complaint with regard to a criminal offence suffered by them and that, upon request, they receive such information:

(a)

any final judgment in a trial;

(b)

information enabling the victim to know about the state of the criminal proceedings, unless in exceptional cases the proper handling of the case may be adversely affected by such notification.

3.   Information provided for under paragraph 1(a) and paragraph 2(a) shall include reasons or a brief summary of reasons for the decision concerned, except in the case of a jury decision or a decision where the reasons are confidential in which cases the reasons are not provided as a matter of national law.

4.   The wish of victims as to whether or not to receive information shall bind the competent authority, unless that information must be provided due to the entitlement of the victim to active participation in the criminal proceedings. Member States shall allow victims to modify their wish at any moment, and shall take such modification into account.

5.   Member States shall ensure that victims are offered the opportunity to be notified, without unnecessary delay, when the person remanded in custody, prosecuted or sentenced for criminal offences concerning them is released from or has escaped detention. Furthermore, Member States shall ensure that victims are informed of any relevant measures issued for their protection in case of release or escape of the offender.

6.   Victims shall, upon request, receive the information provided for in paragraph 5 at least in cases where there is a danger or an identified risk of harm to them, unless there is an identified risk of harm to the offender which would result from the notification.

Article 7

Right to interpretation and translation

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims who do not understand or speak the language of the criminal proceedings concerned are provided, upon request, with interpretation in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system in criminal proceedings, free of charge, at least during any interviews or questioning of the victim during criminal proceedings before investigative and judicial authorities, including during police questioning, and interpretation for their active participation in court hearings and any necessary interim hearings.

2.   Without prejudice to the rights of the defence and in accordance with rules of judicial discretion, communication technology such as videoconferencing, telephone or internet may be used, unless the physical presence of the interpreter is required in order for the victims to properly exercise their rights or to understand the proceedings.

3.   Member States shall ensure that victims who do not understand or speak the language of the criminal proceedings concerned are provided, in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system in criminal proceedings, upon request, with translations of information essential to the exercise of their rights in criminal proceedings in a language that they understand, free of charge, to the extent that such information is made available to the victims. Translations of such information shall include at least any decision ending the criminal proceedings related to the criminal offence suffered by the victim, and upon the victim's request, reasons or a brief summary of reasons for such decision, except in the case of a jury decision or a decision where the reasons are confidential in which cases the reasons are not provided as a matter of national law.

4.   Member States shall ensure that victims who are entitled to information about the time and place of the trial in accordance with Article 6(1)(b) and who do not understand the language of the competent authority, are provided with a translation of the information to which they are entitled, upon request.

5.   Victims may submit a reasoned request to consider a document as essential. There shall be no requirement to translate passages of essential documents which are not relevant for the purpose of enabling victims to actively participate in the criminal proceedings.

6.   Notwithstanding paragraphs 1 and 3, an oral translation or oral summary of essential documents may be provided instead of a written translation on condition that such oral translation or oral summary does not prejudice the fairness of the proceedings.

7.   Member States shall ensure that the competent authority assesses whether victims need interpretation or translation as provided for under paragraphs 1 and 3. Victims may challenge a decision not to provide interpretation or translation. The procedural rules for such a challenge shall be determined by national law.

8.   Interpretation and translation and any consideration of a challenge of a decision not to provide interpretation or translation under this Article shall not unreasonably prolong the criminal proceedings.

Article 8

Right to access victim support services

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims, in accordance with their needs, have access to confidential victim support services, free of charge, acting in the interests of the victims before, during and for an appropriate time after criminal proceedings. Family members shall have access to victim support services in accordance with their needs and the degree of harm suffered as a result of the criminal offence committed against the victim.

2.   Member States shall facilitate the referral of victims, by the competent authority that received the complaint and by other relevant entities, to victim support services.

3.   Member States shall take measures to establish free of charge and confidential specialist support services in addition to, or as an integrated part of, general victim support services, or to enable victim support organisations to call on existing specialised entities providing such specialist support. Victims, in accordance with their specific needs, shall have access to such services and family members shall have access in accordance with their specific needs and the degree of harm suffered as a result of the criminal offence committed against the victim.

4.   Victim support services and any specialist support services may be set up as public or non-governmental organisations and may be organised on a professional or voluntary basis.

5.   Member States shall ensure that access to any victim support services is not dependent on a victim making a formal complaint with regard to a criminal offence to a competent authority.

Article 9

Support from victim support services

1.   Victim support services, as referred to in Article 8(1), shall, as a minimum, provide:

(a)

information, advice and support relevant to the rights of victims including on accessing national compensation schemes for criminal injuries, and on their role in criminal proceedings including preparation for attendance at the trial;

(b)

information about or direct referral to any relevant specialist support services in place;

(c)

emotional and, where available, psychological support;

(d)

advice relating to financial and practical issues arising from the crime;

(e)

unless otherwise provided by other public or private services, advice relating to the risk and prevention of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation.

2.   Member States shall encourage victim support services to pay particular attention to the specific needs of victims who have suffered considerable harm due to the severity of the crime.

3.   Unless otherwise provided by other public or private services, specialist support services referred to in Article 8(3), shall, as a minimum, develop and provide:

(a)

shelters or any other appropriate interim accommodation for victims in need of a safe place due to an imminent risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation;

(b)

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.

CHAPTER 3

PARTICIPATION IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

Article 10

Right to be heard

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims may be heard during criminal proceedings and may provide evidence. Where a child victim is to be heard, due account shall be taken of the child's age and maturity.

2.   The procedural rules under which victims may be heard during criminal proceedings and may provide evidence shall be determined by national law.

Article 11

Rights in the event of a decision not to prosecute

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims, in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system, have the right to a review of a decision not to prosecute. The procedural rules for such a review shall be determined by national law.

2.   Where, in accordance with national law, the role of the victim in the relevant criminal justice system will be established only after a decision to prosecute the offender has been taken, Member States shall ensure that at least the victims of serious crimes have the right to a review of a decision not to prosecute. The procedural rules for such a review shall be determined by national law.

3.   Member States shall ensure that victims are notified without unnecessary delay of their right to receive, and that they receive sufficient information to decide whether to request a review of any decision not to prosecute upon request.

4.   Where the decision not to prosecute is taken by the highest prosecuting authority against whose decision no review may be carried out under national law, the review may be carried out by the same authority.

5.   Paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 shall not apply to a decision of the prosecutor not to prosecute, if such a decision results in an out-of-court settlement, in so far as national law makes such provision.

Article 12

Right to safeguards in the context of restorative justice services

1.   Member States shall take measures to safeguard the victim from secondary and repeat victimisation, from intimidation and from retaliation, to be applied when providing any restorative justice services. Such measures shall ensure that victims who choose to participate in restorative justice processes have access to safe and competent restorative justice services, subject to at least the following conditions:

(a)

the restorative justice services are used only if they are in the interest of the victim, subject to any safety considerations, and are based on the victim's free and informed consent, which may be withdrawn at any time;

(b)

before agreeing to participate in the restorative justice process, the victim is provided with full and unbiased information about that process and the potential outcomes as well as information about the procedures for supervising the implementation of any agreement;

(c)

the offender has acknowledged the basic facts of the case;

(d)

any agreement is arrived at voluntarily and may be taken into account in any further criminal proceedings;

(e)

discussions in restorative justice processes that are not conducted in public are confidential and are not subsequently disclosed, except with the agreement of the parties or as required by national law due to an overriding public interest.

2.   Member States shall facilitate the referral of cases, as appropriate to restorative justice services, including through the establishment of procedures or guidelines on the conditions for such referral.

Article 13

Right to legal aid

Member States shall ensure that victims have access to legal aid, where they have the status of parties to criminal proceedings. The conditions or procedural rules under which victims have access to legal aid shall be determined by national law.

Article 14

Right to reimbursement of expenses

Member States shall afford victims who participate in criminal proceedings, the possibility of reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of their active participation in criminal proceedings, in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system. The conditions or procedural rules under which victims may be reimbursed shall be determined by national law.

Article 15

Right to the return of property

Member States shall ensure that, following a decision by a competent authority, recoverable property which is seized in the course of criminal proceedings is returned to victims without delay, unless required for the purposes of criminal proceedings. The conditions or procedural rules under which such property is returned to the victims shall be determined by national law.

Article 16

Right to decision on compensation from the offender in the course of criminal proceedings

1.   Member States shall ensure that, in the course of criminal proceedings, victims are entitled to obtain a decision on compensation by the offender, within a reasonable time, except where national law provides for such a decision to be made in other legal proceedings.

2.   Member States shall promote measures to encourage offenders to provide adequate compensation to victims.

Article 17

Rights of victims resident in another Member State

1.   Member States shall ensure that their competent authorities can take appropriate measures to minimise the difficulties faced where the victim is a resident of a Member State other than that where the criminal offence was committed, particularly with regard to the organisation of the proceedings. For this purpose, the authorities of the Member State where the criminal offence was committed shall, in particular, be in a position:

(a)

to take a statement from the victim immediately after the complaint with regard to the criminal offence is made to the competent authority;

(b)

to have recourse to the extent possible to the provisions on video conferencing and telephone conference calls laid down in the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union of 29 May 2000 (17) for the purpose of hearing victims who are resident abroad.

2.   Member States shall ensure that victims of a criminal offence committed in Member States other than that where they reside may make a complaint to the competent authorities of the Member State of residence, if they are unable to do so in the Member State where the criminal offence was committed or, in the event of a serious offence, as determined by national law of that Member State, if they do not wish to do so.

3.   Member States shall ensure that the competent authority to which the victim makes a complaint transmits it without delay to the competent authority of the Member State in which the criminal offence was committed, if the competence to institute the proceedings has not been exercised by the Member State in which the complaint was made.

CHAPTER 4

PROTECTION OF VICTIMS AND RECOGNITION OF VICTIMS WITH SPECIFIC PROTECTION NEEDS

Article 18

Right to protection

Without prejudice to the rights of the defence, Member States shall ensure that measures are available to protect victims and their family members from secondary and repeat victimisation, from intimidation and from retaliation, including against the risk of emotional or psychological harm, and to protect the dignity of victims during questioning and when testifying. When necessary, such measures shall also include procedures established under national law for the physical protection of victims and their family members.

Article 19

Right to avoid contact between victim and offender

1.   Member States shall establish the necessary conditions to enable avoidance of contact between victims and their family members, where necessary, and the offender within premises where criminal proceedings are conducted, unless the criminal proceedings require such contact.

2.   Member States shall ensure that new court premises have separate waiting areas for victims.

Article 20

Right to protection of victims during criminal investigations

Without prejudice to the rights of the defence and in accordance with rules of judicial discretion, Member States shall ensure that during criminal investigations:

(a)

interviews of victims are conducted without unjustified delay after the complaint with regard to a criminal offence has been made to the competent authority;

(b)

the number of interviews of victims is kept to a minimum and interviews are carried out only where strictly necessary for the purposes of the criminal investigation;

(c)

victims may be accompanied by their legal representative and a person of their choice, unless a reasoned decision has been made to the contrary;

(d)

medical examinations are kept to a minimum and are carried out only where strictly necessary for the purposes of the criminal proceedings.

Article 21

Right to protection of privacy

1.   Member States shall ensure that competent authorities may take during the criminal proceedings appropriate measures to protect the privacy, including personal characteristics of the victim taken into account in the individual assessment provided for under Article 22, and images of victims and of their family members. Furthermore, Member States shall ensure that competent authorities may take all lawful measures to prevent public dissemination of any information that could lead to the identification of a child victim.

2.   In order to protect the privacy, personal integrity and personal data of victims, Member States shall, with respect for freedom of expression and information and freedom and pluralism of the media, encourage the media to take self-regulatory measures.

Article 22

Individual assessment of victims to identify specific protection needs

1.   Member States shall ensure that victims receive a timely and individual assessment, in accordance with national procedures, to identify specific protection needs and to determine whether and to what extent they would benefit from special measures in the course of criminal proceedings, as provided for under Articles 23 and 24, due to their particular vulnerability to secondary and repeat victimisation, to intimidation and to retaliation.

2.   The individual assessment shall, in particular, take into account:

(a)

the personal characteristics of the victim;

(b)

the type or nature of the crime; and

(c)

the circumstances of the crime.

3.   In the context of the individual assessment, particular attention shall be paid to victims who have suffered considerable harm due to the severity of the crime; victims who have suffered a crime committed with a bias or discriminatory motive which could, in particular, be related to their personal characteristics; victims whose relationship to and dependence on the offender make them particularly vulnerable. In this regard, victims of terrorism, organised crime, human trafficking, gender-based violence, violence in a close relationship, sexual violence, exploitation or hate crime, and victims with disabilities shall be duly considered.

4.   For the purposes of this Directive, child victims shall be presumed to have specific protection needs due to their vulnerability to secondary and repeat victimisation, to intimidation and to retaliation. To determine whether and to what extent they would benefit from special measures as provided for under Articles 23 and 24, child victims shall be subject to an individual assessment as provided for in paragraph 1 of this Article.

5.   The extent of the individual assessment may be adapted according to the severity of the crime and the degree of apparent harm suffered by the victim.

6.   Individual assessments shall be carried out with the close involvement of the victim and shall take into account their wishes including where they do not wish to benefit from special measures as provided for in Articles 23 and 24.

7.   If the elements that form the basis of the individual assessment have changed significantly, Member States shall ensure that it is updated throughout the criminal proceedings.

Article 23

Right to protection of victims with specific protection needs during criminal proceedings

1.   Without prejudice to the rights of the defence and in accordance with rules of judicial discretion, Member States shall ensure that victims with specific protection needs who benefit from special measures identified as a result of an individual assessment provided for in Article 22(1), may benefit from the measures provided for in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article. A special measure envisaged following the individual assessment shall not be made available if operational or practical constraints make this impossible, or where there is a an urgent need to interview the victim and failure to do so could harm the victim or another person or could prejudice the course of the proceedings.

2.   The following measures shall be available during criminal investigations to victims with specific protection needs identified in accordance with Article 22(1):

(a)

interviews with the victim being carried out in premises designed or adapted for that purpose;

(b)

interviews with the victim being carried out by or through professionals trained for that purpose;

(c)

all interviews with the victim being conducted by the same persons unless this is contrary to the good administration of justice;

(d)

all interviews with victims of sexual violence, gender-based violence or violence in close relationships, unless conducted by a prosecutor or a judge, being conducted by a person of the same sex as the victim, if the victim so wishes, provided that the course of the criminal proceedings will not be prejudiced.

3.   The following measures shall be available for victims with specific protection needs identified in accordance with Article 22(1) during court proceedings:

(a)

measures to avoid visual contact between victims and offenders including during the giving of evidence, by appropriate means including the use of communication technology;

(b)

measures to ensure that the victim may be heard in the courtroom without being present, in particular through the use of appropriate communication technology;

(c)

measures to avoid unnecessary questioning concerning the victim's private life not related to the criminal offence; and

(d)

measures allowing a hearing to take place without the presence of the public.

Article 24

Right to protection of child victims during criminal proceedings

1.   In addition to the measures provided for in Article 23, Member States shall ensure that where the victim is a child:

(a)

in criminal investigations, all interviews with the child victim may be audiovisually recorded and such recorded interviews may be used as evidence in criminal proceedings;

(b)

in criminal investigations and proceedings, in accordance with the role of victims in the relevant criminal justice system, competent authorities appoint a special representative for child victims where, according to national law, the holders of parental responsibility are precluded from representing the child victim as a result of a conflict of interest between them and the child victim, or where the child victim is unaccompanied or separated from the family;

(c)

where the child victim has the right to a lawyer, he or she has the right to legal advice and representation, in his or her own name, in proceedings where there is, or there could be, a conflict of interest between the child victim and the holders of parental responsibility.

The procedural rules for the audiovisual recordings referred to in point (a) of the first subparagraph and the use thereof shall be determined by national law.

2.   Where the age of a victim is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that the victim is a child, the victim shall, for the purposes of this Directive, be presumed to be a child.

CHAPTER 5

OTHER PROVISIONS

Article 25

Training of practitioners

1.   Member States shall ensure that officials likely to come into contact with victims, such as police officers and court staff, receive both general and specialist training to a level appropriate to their contact with victims to increase their awareness of the needs of victims and to enable them to deal with victims in an impartial, respectful and professional manner.

2.   Without prejudice to judicial independence and differences in the organisation of the judiciary across the Union, Member States shall request that those responsible for the training of judges and prosecutors involved in criminal proceedings make available both general and specialist training to increase the awareness of judges and prosecutors of the needs of victims.

3.   With due respect for the independence of the legal profession, Member States shall recommend that those responsible for the training of lawyers make available both general and specialist training to increase the awareness of lawyers of the needs of victims.

4.   Through their public services or by funding victim support organisations, Member States shall encourage initiatives enabling those providing victim support and restorative justice services to receive adequate training to a level appropriate to their contact with victims and observe professional standards to ensure such services are provided in an impartial, respectful and professional manner.

5.   In accordance with the duties involved, and the nature and level of contact the practitioner has with victims, training shall aim to enable the practitioner to recognise victims and to treat them in a respectful, professional and non-discriminatory manner.

Article 26

Cooperation and coordination of services

1.   Member States shall take appropriate action to facilitate cooperation between Member States to improve the access of victims to the rights set out in this Directive and under national law. Such cooperation shall be aimed at least at:

(a)

the exchange of best practices;

(b)

consultation in individual cases; and

(c)

assistance to European networks working on matters directly relevant to victims' rights.

2.   Member States shall take appropriate action, including through the internet, aimed at raising awareness of the rights set out in this Directive, reducing the risk of victimisation, and minimising the negative impact of crime and the risks of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation, in particular by targeting groups at risk such as children, victims of gender-based violence and violence in close relationships. Such action may include information and awareness raising campaigns and research and education programmes, where appropriate in cooperation with relevant civil society organisations and other stakeholders.

CHAPTER 6

FINAL PROVISIONS

Article 27

Transposition

1.   Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 16 November 2015.

2.   When Member States adopt those provisions they shall contain a reference to this Directive or be accompanied by such a reference on the occasion of their official publication. Member States shall determine how such a reference is to be made.

Article 28

Provision of data and statistics

Member States shall, by 16 November 2017 and every three years thereafter, communicate to the Commission available data showing how victims have accessed the rights set out in this Directive.

Article 29

Report

The Commission shall, by 16 November 2017, submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council, assessing the extent to which the Member States have taken the necessary measures in order to comply with this Directive, including a description of action taken under Articles 8, 9 and 23, accompanied, if necessary, by legislative proposals.

Article 30

Replacement of Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA

Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA is hereby replaced in relation to Member States participating in the adoption of this Directive, without prejudice to the obligations of the Member States relating to the time limits for transposition into national law.

In relation to Member States participating in the adoption of this Directive, references to that Framework Decision shall be construed as references to this Directive.

Article 31

Entry into force

This Directive shall enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Article 32

Addressees

This Directive is addressed to the Member States in accordance with the Treaties.

Done at Strasbourg, 25 October 2012.

For the European Parliament

The President

M. SCHULZ

For the Council

The President

A. D. MAVROYIANNIS


(1)  OJ C 43, 15.2.2012, p. 39.

(2)  OJ C 113, 18.4.2012, p. 56.

(3)  Position of the European Parliament of 12 September 2012 (not yet published in the Official Journal) and decision of the Council of 4 October 2012.

(4)  OJ L 82, 22.3.2001, p. 1.

(5)  OJ C 115, 4.5.2010, p. 1.

(6)  OJ C 187, 28.6.2011, p. 1.

(7)  OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 53.

(8)  OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 26.

(9)  OJ L 338, 21.12.2011, p. 2.

(10)  OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.

(11)  OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1.

(12)  OJ L 164, 22.6.2002, p. 3.

(13)  OJ L 328, 15.12.2009, p. 42.

(14)  OJ L 350, 30.12.2008, p. 60.

(15)  OJ C 35, 9.2.2012, p. 10.

(16)  OJ L 8, 12.1.2001, p. 1.

(17)  OJ C 197, 12.7.2000, p. 3.


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