It is estimated that every year 75 million people across Europe continue to fall victims of crime. Persons with disabilities are at high risk of becoming victims and survivors of crimes, including violence, hate speech and harassment. For example, women with disabilities are two to five times more likely to face violence than other women, and 34 % of women with a health problem or a disability have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner in their lifetime.
Today, the European Disability Forum (EDF) joins the European Day for Victims of Crime recalling that no victim shall be left behind.
Already victims of physical, mental trauma or both, victims of crime shall not see their fundamental rights denied when reporting or accessing justice. All victims of crime, have the right to protection and a safe environment to report the crime and access justice, without fear of retaliation from those that caused them harm.
With the adoption of the the Victims’ Rights Directive, the European Commission and EU member states committed to fight violence and advance the rights of victims of crime. This directive lays down a clear set of rights for victims of crime, and obligations for EU countries and other actors (other EU bodies, victim support organisations and civil society organisations) to ensure these rights in practice. It recognises the importance to ensure the rights of victims with disabilities through accessibility of the justice system, from accessible communication to accessible premises.
However, it is still very difficult for victims with disabilities all over Europe to claim their rights due to lack of information, support and protection.
Why EU Strategy for Victim’s Rights is important for persons with disabilities?
The Strategy recognises that persons with disabilities are often victims of abuses, including hate crimes, and that their access to justice is more difficult, especially if they are deprived of legal capacity.
Once victims of a crime, persons with disabilities have difficulties to access support measures and services available to other victims, and to exercise their rights to and in the criminal proceeding. These services available to all victims are often not accessible to them.
The strategy therefore lays down important actions:
- Promote actions that draw lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as on-line support services and declaration of victims’ support services as essential services
- Promote integrated and targeted support to victims with special needs, such as victims with disabilities, through EU funding possibilities and the EU awareness campaign on victims’ rights
- Commit to EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention on gender based violence, or alternative measures that achieve the same objective
- Require Member States to adopt key actions based on the Strategy
What EDF is doing?
- We will continue to advocate for the rights of victims of crime with disabilities and full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in policies on victims’ rights, in particular in relation to accessibility, e-Justice and gender based violence
- We collaborate with other organisations involved on victims’ rights, including Victims’ Support Europe, and are member of the European Coalition to End Violence Against Women
- We participate actively in the newly established EU Victims’ Rights Platform
- We continuously call on the EU to accede to the Istanbul Convention and support our members campaigning for the ratification of the Convention by their countries
- We will ask that victims with disabilities are included in the EU awareness raising campaigns
- EDF recommendations victims’ rights strategy
- EDF recommendations on digitalisation of justice
- EDF input on the roadmap evaluation on the victims’ rights directive
- EDF input on roadmap on modernising judicial cooperation
Marine Uldry, Human Rights Officer