Victim’s Rights “Victims are often the forgotten component in the analysis of crime”. By NikolinaVicoroski (21557420)
DEFINITIONS • United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (1985) • Victims Rights Act (1996)
United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (1985) • Defines victims as people who have "suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws".
Victims Rights Act (1996) • Defines a “victim of crime” as a “person who suffers harm as a direct result of an act committed, or apparently committed, by another person in the course of a criminal offence”. • Defines a “victim” as: • a person against whom an offence is committed by another person; and • a person who, through, or by means of, an offence committed by another person, suffers physical injury, or loss of, or damage to, property; and • a parent or legal guardian of a child, or of a young person, who falls within subparagraph (i) or subparagraph (ii), unless that parent or guardian is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and • a member of the immediate family of a person who, as a result of an offence committed by another person, dies or is incapable, unless that member is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
Rights of the victim • To have their case reported and recorded • To be informed of all services available to victims • To be informed of the progress of the investigation • To be told of any arrests and charges • To be informed of any changes to charges and pleas • To be informed of all hearing dates • To be informed of their role as witness • To be protected from the accused • To make submissions at various stages of the process including bail, sentencing, parole, release • To be compensated for damages resulting from the crime up to a value of $50,000 • To be able to make a victim impact statement to the court
CASE:- R v Longman (1989) • FACTS:- • Mr. Longman sexually intervened with his stepdaughter numerous times while asleep, once when she was six and the other time when she was ten. • The victim did not report this crime at the time due to her age and fear of the perpetrator being violent as he has a nature of aggression. • Eventually she reported the offence 25 years after the first assault and 21 years after the second assault as to obtain justice from the criminal system. • DECISION:- • Mr. Longman was fined $2000 for each offence and was ordered to be imprisoned until such fines were paid which would not exceed three months imprisonment. • Violation of victims rights “to be protected from the accused” • Got light punishment therefore no sense of justice achieved for victim
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics • Stated that over one million recorded people in Australia that are victimized by crime each year and more than 80% of these reported crimes do not proceed to prosecution. This statistic only represents the level of reported crime so it will always be underestimated.
HISTORY • Victim movement began to emerge in Australia in the early 1980’s during a time of systematic and structural change. • Victim Impact Statements were introduced in Australia to inform the judge or magistrate on how a crime has affected the victim. • This was a positive movement as it allowed the victims to be the integral components in the criminal justice system, rather than mere bystanders.
Victims Compensation Act( 1987) was enacted to increase the benefits available to victims of violent crimes and to place the awarding of criminal injuries compensation in the hands of the independent Victims Compensation Tribunal. • In 1996 the Victims Compensation Act( 1987)was amended to organise an approved counselling scheme for victims and a statutory scheme for compensation applications. • 1996- the rise of the Victims Rights Act which was enacted to help protect the rights of victims so they would no longer be classified as the “forgotten party”.
The sense of achieving justice for society can conflict with achieving justice for the individuals involved in the criminal justice system. • However through the amendments of the legislations there seems to be a sense of acceptance and tolerance of justice and utilitarianism amongst society.
PROBLEMS • According to the International Crime Victims Survey there are more than 50% of victims not satisfied with the treatment of the police to them. • Many others end up severely traumatized by the criminal justice system. • Further 20% stated that the police failed to keep them informed about the progress of the case thus violating the victims’ rights of “to be informed of the progress of the investigation”.
MEDIA:- “Public bays for blood but the story is a fraught one” • FACTS:- • Mr. King (perpetrator) sexually assaulted a girl under the age of 10. • Between 9 and 10.30 in the evening of November 23, 2007, King, who was drunk, broke into the house of the victim's grandmother. The child was sleeping there. He went to her bedroom and turned off the night light, removed his pants and underpants and the victim's pyjama pants and underpants. She woke up and told him to go away. • In his sentencing reasons, the judge said King had touched her and masturbated. He then left the house, leaving his underpants behind. • DECISION:- • Mr. King only received 2year suspended sentence with a 2year good behaviour bond when the maximum penalty for this type of offence is 25 years with the standard non-parole period of 15 years. • He received such a low punishment because he pleaded guilty at the earliest available opportunity and he confessed to the police. • Violation of victim’s rights • “to be able to make a victim impact statement”- no evidence suggests that there was no victim’s contribution into the sentencing of the accused in the article. • “to be protected from the accused”- due to the punishment obtained of a suspended sentence. • The lack of efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system evident in this article has not achieved any sense of equality and fairness for the individual as the victim’s rights has the potential to clash with those of the offender. • The United Nation Declaration and national constitutional amendments insist on that the victim’s rights must not interfere with the offender’s right to a fair trial.
REFORMS • The NSW Law Reform Commission states • “as society evolves, the law needs to change to reflect, among other things, economic and technological developments, different social values and new concepts of justice. Law reform commissions are one of a number of agents of change which operate to alter our law and its administration”.
NSW Law Reform Commission • Set up in 1967 • Considering the laws of NSW with a view to: • Eliminating defects in laws • Eliminating laws which are out of date • Simplifying and modernising the law • Adopting new and effective means of administrating the law
Victims of Crime Assistance League • VOCAL was formed in 1988 by a group of people from the ACT and the surrounding region who had suffered victimisation. The assistance VOCAL provides to victims of crime includes: • Support from people who understand through experience the anguish criminal victimisation can cause; • Outreach service to victims who are unable or do not wish initially to attend meetings; • Court support, in the form of information about the court process and support during and after the hearing; • Provision of information to victims about individuals or organisation that can provide counselling and legal services; • Promoting public awareness of the troubles of the victims; and • Assisting the authorities in identifying and remedying difficulties for victims in the criminal justice system of surrounding area of victim.
Victims self-help groups • The Domestic Violence Crisis Service; • The Rape Crisis Centre; and • The Victims of Crime Assistance League • The Victims of Crime Assistance League promotes public awareness of the predicament of victims as well as in assisting the authorities in identifying and remedying difficulties for victims in the criminal justice system of Australia. • They provide an important support network for those who have been victimised assisting them with recovery from trauma caused by a criminal justice system that does not adequately recognise and respond to the needs of the victims of crime.
CONCLUSION • Justice for society involves the legal system giving members of society the reassurance and peace of mind that they live in a safe environment. • Therefore an effective and efficient criminal justice system works together with society and with the victim and offender’s rights to obtain the greatest possible happiness for the greatest possible number of people.