Irvin Waller calls for governments to meet international standards of victim assistance and invest in preventing victimization.

Rights for Victims of Crime: A Seven Point Check List for Legislators

The book – Rights for Victims of Crime – shows that we can estimate the numbers of women, men and children who will be victims of crime each year.  It shows that we can assign dollar figures to the loss, injury, pain and mental harm that they suffer.  It cites leading and inspiring examples of how law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and service agencies meet the needs of victims and protect the rights of crime victims.

However, it also shows that there are too many victims and many do not get these services and rights.  It shows what models, tools and resources are needed to advance law enforcement, service agencies and the legal profession to basic national and international standards.  It includes a model law that provides a comprehensive draft text for legislators.

Here is a check list of seven key areas.  The book provides details as to who and how to make the overdue reforms.

1.   Right to Information, such as

(a)    the way that victims will be informed of the type of services or organizations to which they can turn for support and legal advice as well as who will pay;

(b)   how victims obtain reparation from the offender, and requirements for victims to obtain compensation from the state;

(c)    the role of victims, as well as the timing, of legal proceedings.

2.   Right to Support and Assistance, such as

(a)    medical attention and accompaniment to medical exams, without cost to the victim;

(b)   material support such as shelter, housing, transportation, or property repair;

(c)    crisis intervention and counselling, particularly for coping with trauma.

3.   Right to Reparation, such as

(a)    model procedures to ensure that the criminal court orders restitution from offenders that is paid;

(b)   restorative justice respectful of victim rights;

(c)    adequate compensation from the state.

4.    Protection of Victims, Witnesses, and Experts, such as

(a)    protection from potential retaliation or intimidation;

(b)   advice and assistance to avoid repeat victimization;

(c)    safeguards for privacy and confidentiality.

5.   Right to Participation and Representation, such as

(a)    providing victims with participation and representation to have their interests in their safety, reparation, and justice respected (see Rights for Victims of Crime, chapter 6 for examples of justice rights);

(b)   standing equal to, and balanced fairly against interests of, the accused or convicted offender in all judicial and administrative proceedings;

(c)    right of appeal against decisions that ignore legislated rights of victims.

6.   Right to Effective Policies to Prevent Victimization, such as

(a)    applying current scientific knowledge on how to reduce significantly the number of victims of crime by tackling their multiple causes;

(b)   institutional frameworks to sustain effective strategies to reduce crime, involving policing, local government, schools, problem solving courts, and so on;

(c)    public participation in, and engagement with, successful crime reduction strategies.

7.  Right to Full Implementation, such as

(a)    an Office for Victims of Crime to implement the programs and innovations;

(b)   standards and training for law enforcement, legal and social service professionals;

(c)    monitoring to assess full implementation,  including through annual victimization  surveys and independent research

(d)   a victim commissioner or ombudsperson to investigate individual complaints from victims and recommend reforms

(e)    Institutes for Research and Development.

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