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Rights of Victims of Crime

Rights of Victims of Crime


Dotnepal presents a short information on Rights of victims of crime.

What is crime

Crime is a social phenomenon. No society primitive or modern, no country whether it is developed, developing or under developed is free from its clutches. The by-product of the crime i.e. victim is equally bound to emerge. A crime may be defined to be any act done in violation of those duties which an individual owes to the community, and for the breach of which the law has provided that the offender shall make satisfaction to the public.
 
A crime or public offense is an act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it, and to which is annexed, upon conviction, either, is a combination, of the following punishments: death; imprisonment; fine; removal from office; or disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit. While many crimes have their origin at common law, most have been created by statue. Crime victim is a person who has been physically, financially, emotionally injured or had their property taken/damaged by someone by unlawful act. Victim is the primary evidence of the crime and he/she may be the crime informer as an eye witness. However, victim in crime has no separate entity; he/she is viewed in relationship to the offender.

 
 

Rights of Victims of Crime

Victims’ rights depend on the laws of the jurisdiction where the crime is investigated and prosecuted. Some of the fundamental rights of crime victim proposed in different laws are;

 

  • Right not to be victimized,

  • Right to be compensated against victimization,

  • Right to stand as a party on the failure of State Agency,

  • Right to be entitled for medical treatment,

  • Right to be consulted before the decision is made for withdrawal of sub-judice cases or before granting pardon,

  • Right to access to justice.[1]

 

Rights to compensation is one of the most important rights of the crime victims as this right provides relief to the victims who have suffered injuries, losses, misery as a result of the crime. The word compensation in literal sense means a thing that compensates or is given to compensate (for); a counterbalancing feature or factor; amends, recompense; spec. money given to compensate loss or injury, or for requisitioned property. [2]

According to paragraph 6(d) of the Declaration of Basic Principles of justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985, the responsiveness of judicial and administrative processed to the needs of victims should be facilitated by: “Taking measures to minimize inconvenience to victims, protect their privacy, when necessary, and ensure their safety, as well as that of their families and witnesses on their behalf, from intimidation an retaliation.”

 

On this issue the Council of Europe Recommendation on the Position of Victims states that: “Information and public relations policies in connection with the investigation and trial of offences should give due consideration on the need to protect the victim from any publicity which will unduly affect his private life or dignity. If the type of offence or the particular status or personal situation and safety of the victim make such special protection necessary, either the trial before the judgment should be held in camera or disclosure or publication of personal information should be restricted to whatever extent is appropriate.”

It is further recommended that, “whenever this appears necessary, and especially when organized crime is involved, the victim and his family should be given effective protection against intimidation and the risk of retaliation by the offender.”

 

The duty to treat victims of crime “with compassion and respect for their dignity” (Principle 4 of the Declaration of Basic Principles) is particularly relevant in the context of the questioning of victims, whether the questioning is carried out by the police, a prosecutor or a judge in court. To give evidence n court may be a particularly intimidating experience, especially if the victim has had no earlier contact with the criminal justice system. Specific assistance for victims may be helpful “to ensure that the victim feels that he or she has been able to participate properly and that the court has the best evidence before it.” Special assistance to victims who have to testify in court may be of particular value to victims of rape and child abuse. The use of trained counselors, video-taped evidence or direct video links may be helpful in this respect, as may legal aid to victims so that they can have their own legal adviser. This is particularly important, inter alia, when the victim’s civil claim is heard at the same time as the criminal prosecution.

According to the Council of Europe Recommendation on the Position of Victims, the victim should, at all stages of the procedure, “be questioned in a manner which gives due consideration to his personal situation, his rights and his dignity. Whenever possible and appropriate, children and the mentally ill or handicapped should be questioned in the presence of their parents or guardians or other persons qualified to assist them.”

 

Questioning by the police, a prosecutor or a judge or victims of crime must be carried out with compassion and respect for their dignity. Special assistance to victims testifying in court may be necessary to reassure the victims and ensure that they play a proper role in the proceedings. Special assistance may be needed, inter alia, for victims of sex crimes, child abused, trafficking or terrorist acts and for victims of foreign nationality, members of minority groups and persons with disabilities.

Thus, the core rights for victims of crime include:

 

  • Right to attend criminal justice proceedings; the right to apply for compensations;

  • Right to be heard and participate in criminal justice proceeding;

  • Right to be informed of proceedings and events in the criminal justice process, of legal rights and remedies, and of available services;

  • The right to protection from intimidation and harassment;

  • Right to restitution from the offender;

  • Right to prompt return of personal property seized as evidence;

  • Right to a speedy trial; and the right to enforcement of these rights.

 

Constitutional Protection incorporating victims’ rights into constitutions also gives those rights a degree of permanence. Ordinary statutes can be changed at any time by the legislature.

 
 

[1] Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha, Premises for the Victims of Crime (Kathamandu: Paravi Prakasha, 2012), 12.

[2] Abhishek Anand, “Compensation to the Victim of Crime: Assessing Legislative Frame Work and Role of Indian Courts”, The Legal Service India, accessed November 5, 2016, http://www.legalserviceindia.com.



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