Supporting victims of crime in the EU - evaluation of the Victims’ Rights Directive
Updated: Jul 14, 2022
Protect Children gave a consultation to the European Commission on evaluating the Victims’ Rights Directive (Directive 2012/29/EU). In the consultation, Protect Children particularly highlighted the need to consider the unique needs of child victims of crimes of sexual violence, in particular those cases where child sexual abuse material (CSAM) has been recorded as a part of the abuse.
All forms of sexual violence are extremely harmful and traumatizing to the victim, and the adverse psychological impacts can be long-lasting or permanent. Child victims must thus be able to easily access the appropriate psychological support and care (e.g. TF-CBT). Victims whose abuse has been documented in the form of CSAM risk being revictimized for years following their initial abuse as the material is redistributed online, leading to a potential need for prolonged support. This must be taken into consideration in view of compensation. Victims of crimes of sexual violence must be able to access psychological support and compensation also at later stages in life, as symptoms may present themselves even years after the initial abuse.
Protect Children strongly believes that sexual violence against a child is violence against the entire family. We have learned from organizing peer support groups for parents whose child has become the victim of a crime of sexual violence how fundamentally important it is that parents have access to psychological support and care. Therefore, we strongly encouraged the extension of the definition of victims of crime to also cover family members and caregivers. As the Directive does not currently mandate support to family members of victims, except in cases resulting in death, there are insufficient support systems for parents of child victims. It is absolutely crucial that the caregivers of the child victim receive support so that they, in turn, are able to support the child in their lengthy recovery process.
In its statement, Protect Children also highlighted the need for setting maximum time limits for criminal proceedings in crimes of sexual violence against children. The current legal framework allows criminal proceedings to be very lengthy, going against the best interests of the child victim.