Prepared by the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the Recommendation updates and replaces Recommendation Rec(2006)8 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on assistance to crime victims, which, at that time, proved a useful tool in furthering the issue of victims’ rights across Council of Europe member States. However, significant developments have occurred in the field of victims’ rights, victimological research and national and international legislation and practice, resulting in a better understanding of victims’ needs.
NSCR scientist Prof. Antony Pemberton worked out the recommendation together with Prof. Suzan van der Aa (Maastricht University). In the final phase, they also collaborated with the Council's Victims' Rights Working Group, which included delegates from 16 member states. The research of NSCR's Victimology research group provided the basis for several articles of the recommendation. For example, article 3 deals with the barriers to seeking help, the subject of Valerie Pijlman's dissertation; article 10 deals with participation in law, the subject of Marleen Kragting; article 15 on compensation, the subject of Cheyenne Dunk; article 16 on remedies, Freya Augesteijn's research topic; and article 18 on restorative justice, which Alice Bosma, Nieke Elbers and Marleen Kragting will be researching in the coming years. The dissertations of Rachel Dijkstra and Iris Becx will also contribute to this. Finally, article 25 draws attention to scientific research into victims, in line with the call made by Prof. Catrien Bijleveld at her presidential address of the European Society of Criminology for a new European Victims' Rights Survey.
The Recommendation, therefore, provides more detailed guidance on the development and implementation of victims’ rights and calls upon member States to actively seek out and remove any barriers in the access to justice for victims of crime. It introduces the principle that victims of crimes should have the right to be heard concerning any decision having a considerable impact on their interests and a right to remedy that aims to support their rights in cases where they are not respected.
The Recommendation calls for victims of crime to be supported in accessing their rights and services, and to be recognised and treated with respect, professionalism and non-discrimination. States should take into account that victims of crime may also have a range of needs that require individual recognition to receive the appropriate information, support and protection.
The Recommendation draws upon existing Council of Europe Standards including the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention, CETS No.210) and the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No.201) and other international standard-setting instruments in this field.