The Victims of Crime Bill 2011 As proposed by: AdVIC Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Support After Homicide (SAH) Maria McDonald BL
Presentation • Part I – Background to the drafting of the Victims Rights Bill 2011, as presented; • Part II – Ireland - lagging behind the rest of the world on victims rights; • Part III – Victims Rights in Ireland; • Part IV – The Draft Victims Rights Bill 2011; • Part V – Balancing the Rights of the Accused with Victims Rights; • Part VI – Funding a Victims Liaison Service.
Background • This Bill arises out of a request by AdVIC in August 2010 received by PILA (Public Interest Law Alliance) for the assistance of lawyers in a pro bono referral scheme for research on Victim Liaison Officers. • John Evan’s BL completed work on a pilot scheme for a State appointed Liaison Officer to assist victims of homicide while Maria McDonald BL drafted proposed amendments to the Victim’s Rights Bill 2008. • The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Support After Homicide engaged in consultations with AdVIC with the assistance of PILA. As result of a number of round table meetings all parties came to an agreed text for the Victims Rights Bill 2011 and it was presented to the Victims of Crime Office in December 2011.
The Interest Groups • Reasons for the implementation of the Victim’s Rights Bill: • AdVIC • Dublin Rape Crisis Centre • Support After Homicide (SAH)
Ireland: Lagging behind the rest of the world on victims rights? Ireland has failed to implement: • Article 4 of the Council Framework Decision of 15 March 2001 on standing of victims in criminal proceedings(2001/220/JHA) on the provision of information to victims • UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.
Ireland: Lagging behind the rest of the world on victims rights? UKDomestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 New Zealand Victims Rights Act 2002 Victims of Crime Reform Bill, (319-1) 2011 Victims' Rights Amendment Act 2011 Canada Federal and provisional law protecting victims Corrections and Conditional Release Act 1992 Federal Ombudsman established for Victims of Crime Australia Victims of Crime Act 1994
Victims Rights in Ireland Report on Services and Legislation Providing Support for Victims of Crime by Ivana Bacik, Liz Heffernan, Patricia Brazil and Marguerite Woods of the Law School, Trinity College Dublin: ‘First, the most striking problem identified by the groups generally relates to the lack of information for victims, and the difficulties that victims encounter in accessing any support services. Many groups commented on the lack of information made available to victims about the availability of existing services, and in particular about their perception of a low referral rate to their services from An Garda Síochána and other statutory agencies.’ (December 2007 at pg.17)
The Victim Charter 2010 • The Victim’s Charter 2010 states that it ‘is only a guide. It is not a legal document and does not give you legal rights’. [pg. 9] The Commission Staff Working Document accompanying document to the Commission Report based on article 18 of the Council Framework Decision of 15 March 2001 on standing of victims in criminal proceedings, points out that the legal status of the Victims Charter is ‘not statutory and not binding’. • The Report prepared for the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crimes has criticised the Charter’s lack of legal effect as ‘unlike most charters, it does not define their rights under law (limited as they are), nor the methods by which any such rights may be enforced.’ • These failures are also illustrated by the Report from the Commission pursuant to Article 18 of the Council Framework Decision of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings.
The Draft Victims Rights Bill 2011 • Mirrors the Victims Rights Bill 2008 • Implements the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime which was published on the 18th of May 2011, which is endorsed by the Minister for Justice. • Balances the rights of the accused with the rights of the victim
The Draft Victims Rights Bill 2011 PART I Preliminary Provisions PART II Provisions relation to the Treatment and Rights of Victims Generally Chapter 1 Principles guiding treatment of victims Chapter 2 The Victim’s Code Chapter 3 Victims Rights Chapter 4 Recognition of Vulnerability and Protection of Victims Chapter 5 Mediation and Restorative Justice • Explanatory Memorandum
Chapter 1Principles guiding treatment of victims 4. Treatment of victims. 5. Access to services.
Chapter 2The Victim’s Code - Information and services to be provided to victims 6. The Victim’s Code - Information and services to be provided to victims 7. Procedure for the implementation of a Victims Code 8. Information which must be provided to Victims 9. Legal consequences of non compliance with the Victims Code and Section 8 (1) 10. Establishment of a Victims Liaison Service
Chapter 3Rights of Victims 11. Right to understand and to be understood 12. Right to interpretation and translation 13. Right of Access to Support Services 14. Right to reimbursement of reasonable expenses in certain circumstances 15. Right to the return of Property 16. Rights of victims resident in another Member State
Chapter 4Recognition of Vulnerability and Protection of Victims 17. Identification of Vulnerable Persons 18. Right to avoidance of contact between victim and offender 19. Right to protection of victims during questioning in criminal investigations 20. Right to protection of vulnerable persons during criminal proceedings 21. Right to protection of child victims during criminal proceedings
Chapter 5Mediation and Restorative Justice 22. Establishment of a Criminal Mediation Board
The Balancing of the Right of the Accused with that of the Victim • Explanatory Memorandum • The Draft Victims Rights Bill 2011 • Section 6 (2) Victims Rights Bill 2011 ‘The Code of Practise cannot in any way interfere with the Constitutional Rights of an accused person’ • Section 8 (4) Victims Rights Bill 2011 Information will not be provided to victims where it is not in the interests of justice to do so i.e. it would prejudice a fair trial
Further work to be done: • Victims of Crime Ombudsman • Restorative Justice
Funding a Victims Liaison Service • Canada, like Ireland, has no legislation in place protecting victims; however they do have a Victims Rights Ombudsman & a federal victim surcharge . • Sue O'Sullivan, Canada's federal ombudsman for the victims of crime, published a report on the 2nd of February 2012 on issues facing victims and the failure of Canadian Bill C-10 to deal with these issues adequately [http://www.rjbc.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2012/02/Shifting-the-Conversation.pdf ] .
Victims Surcharge? • In Canada they impose a surcharge of $100 on all persons convicted of a crime depending on whether the fine would cause them or their family undue hardship. It is known as the federal victim surcharge. The Ombudsman is seeking to double this figure in Canada. • Could a similar surcharge be imposed in Ireland to fund a Victims Liaison Service?