International Seminar on Victims of Terrorism in Madrid

14 May, 2019

Terrorism is a longstanding problem in Europe and thus a source of concern in all member states. The role of the European Union and individual EU member states in the fight against terrorism has increased over 15 years as attack after attack has taken place. Still, a lot has to be improved to support victims of terrorism. That’s what has been discussed on the International Seminar on Victims of Terrorism in Madrid last week with Victim Support Europe among its participants.

On Tuesday 7th May 2019 the Spanish Ministry of Interior organised the international seminar on victims of terrorism in Madrid, Spain. Due to its record of terrorist attacks, Spain managed to turn their pain into experience and positive learning. Spain considers that victims of terrorism should have a specific regulation as they also constitute symbols of democratic States. The Spanish Ministry of Interior has established a specific unit: Director General to support victims of terrorism. Its goal is to serve victims of terrorism in a comprehensive way in term of processing, bespoke care of victims and their relatives, material and financial support. One of the current projects of the DG is direct testimony of victims of terrorism in educational centres to ensure that youth knows about the past and is aware that terrorist attacks can happen again.

The event featured three roundtable presentations on three different themes: (1)assistance and support to victims of terrorism in the Directive 2017/541 of the European Parliament and the of the Council, (2)the needs of psychological attention to victims of terrorism in the long term, (3)integral attention to cross-border victims.

VSE’s member V-Europe presented the challenges still faced by victims of the Brussels attacks. In Belgium, victims of terrorism are covered by companies of insurance and not the State. This situation put victims of terrorism in a continuous re-victimisation process. It also stopped many victims to continue seeking for compensation because of the administrative burden. V-Europe has been working with the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission, as a result some laws were passed but they still need royal decrees to be properly implemented.

The participants of the seminar were able to share knowledge and best practices in order to get greater understanding of the present burning issues concerning victims of terrorism to make it easier for countries to identify the best solutions to the current challenges in their fight against terrorism.