VSE meets Commissioner Věra Jourová to discuss victims' rights and support

7 Oct, 2015

From right to left João Lazaro (Vice President of VSE, President of APAV), Markéta Vitoušová (Managing Director Prague Branch of Bily kruh bezpeci (CZ)), Sabrina Bellucci (Board Member VSE, Director of the French National Institute for Victims’ Aid and Mediation (FR)), Commissioner Věra Jourová, Helgard van Hüllen (Vice President of VSE, Vice President of WEISSER RING (DE)), Levent Altan (Executive Director VSE) and An Verelst (Policy Officer VSE)

On the 2nd of October VSE had a meeting with Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. VSE was invited to update the Commissioner on some of the key priorities and concerns within the victims’ field. It was an opportunity to reflect upon the importance of maintaining the momentum by paying attention to victims’ issues and in this way ensuring victims won’t be forgotten.

Commissioner Jourova expressed her conviction, sharing VSE’s perspective, that the victim should be at the heart of justice. She was keen to hear from VSE delegates how she could support all victims by raising awareness on victims’ issues.

VSE and the Commissioner shared their views and concerns on the implementation of the Victims’ Rights Directive, which remains high on both parties’ agendas. Commissioner Jourová expressed her commitment to ensure the implementation of the Victims’ Rights directive and expressed her wish that VSE in particular would help looking after the correct application of EU rules. She was very interested in VSE’s views on the implementation of the Directive in different EU Member States. VSE stressed the importance of ensuring victim support in all member states and highlighted its efforts to help setting up victim support services in the eight member states which currently do not have universal victim support services. For VSE one of the key concerns is that there is a lack of victim support organisations in these eight countries, and that in many other member states there is a relatively weak level of service provision. Moreover, the 116006 helpline which was created to help victims of crime is only operational in eight of the 28 EU Member States. Commissioner Jourova recognizes the importance of these concerns and wants to ensure that victim support is available in all Member States, for all victims. VSE stressed the importance of coordination, training and funding to ensure the minimum standards for rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

Commissioner Jourová referred to ongoing discussions on priorities of funding and underlined her priorities for funding on training, awareness raising campaigns and supporting NGO’s in the field. The Commissioner highlighted that knowledge on what is happening in the different Member States through monitoring and data collection is key to support an implementation of the Directive that goes beyond legislative changes and makes rights a reality, which VSE agrees with.

Concerns were also expressed by the European Commission with respect to the vulnerability of migrants to victimisation and the steps that need to be taken to ensure that there is sufficient support for them. The importance of long term planning in this area was recognized by both VSE and the Commissioner given that these groups will have experienced victimisation at home and are vulnerable to victimisation in the EU Member States.

The Commissioner thanked VSE for its work and commitment to victims’ issues. There was strong engagement to continue the close collaboration between VSE and the European Commission.