Victim Support responds to David Cameron's EU speech
Published: 23 January 2013
- 23 January 2013
Following Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement on the future of the EU today Chief Executive of Victim Support Javed Khan said:
“A fair and just society is one that supports victims in the aftermath of crime. The EU has done a lot to protect victims of crime at home and abroad, so I’m concerned about David Cameron’s suggestion that we could leave it in five years time. I want people to think carefully about victims of crime before they vote in any referendum.
“It’s true that the EU often gets a bad press from victims. It’s been blamed for wide ranging problems such as inmates getting compensation for 'slopping out', to prisoners getting the vote, to the difficulties faced deporting Abu Qatada, even though these examples relate to the European Convention on Human Rights and not the EU, a nuance often lost in the fevered debates about our place in it.
“The truth of the matter is that if you are a victim of crime you may have a lot to thank the EU for, and a lot to lose if Britain pulls out of measures it has just recently signed up to.
“Positive measures to come out of Europe include everything from funding programmes for victims, including those who have suffered rape and domestic violence, to the new EU Directive on victims of crime.
“This Directive offers significant benefits and guaranteed protections in the criminal justice process for victims, both at home and abroad. These include a victim’s right to information about the crime committed against them and what is happening to investigate it; the reimbursement of expenses for going to court to give evidence; the right to get help and support in the aftermath of a crime, and other important benefits. These are all issues that victims tell my charity - day in day out - are so important to them. There would therefore be significant pitfalls in pulling out of the EU.
“Bizarrely – in light of recent suggestions of now opting out of justice measures by 100 Conservative MPs - the new Directive received cross party support when it was debated in Parliament. Members on both sides of the House recognised that as well as helping victims of crime here in the UK, it would help the millions of British citizens who travel to Europe every year, guaranteeing them protections if they are unfortunate enough to fall victim to crime abroad.
“For example, thanks to this Directive, victims will soon have a right to have criminal proceedings translated into a language they can understand - an invaluable right if you don't speak the language in the country where you have fallen victim. Whether you are planning on sight seeing in Paris or relaxing by the Rhine this directive is good news for people in this country.
“Victim organisations across Europe - and the world - look to the UK as a leader in support for victims and witnesses. If our government and the electorate are considering opting out of these improvements, it will be nothing but a backward step.”