Today on the 12th European Day for the Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism, we have been honoured and humbled to hear testimonies from victims from around Europe at the dedicated events organised by the Radicalisation Awareness Network Centre of Excellence. We listened to people’s stories whose lives have been devastated and transformed by terrorist atrocities. We honour and remember all victims of terrorism.
We also heard today that the Justice Council adopted a general approach on a proposed EU Directive on Combating Terrorism. Now, the European Union and law-making procedures can be complex and difficult to understand. If you want to know more about the EU Directive on Combating Terrorism and how this Directive is written, negotiated and adopted read our article on a short A-Z on the EU Directive on Combating Terrorism.
Looking at the EU Directive on Combatting Terrorism, as Victim Support Europe we pay particular attention to how this Directive can make a change to victims. Furthermore, we explain how each person can make a difference for victims of terrorism, influencing their Member of the European Parliament. Victim Support Europe as well works to improve the rights and support for victims of terrorism through different actions.
- So how does the Directive help victims of terrorism?
Well it does a little. There is a specific requirement to have specialist victims support services in place. States must also co-operate to improve the provision of information across borders. And when someone is a victim in an attack in another EU State, they have the right to support in their home EU state.
Yet this falls far short of what could have been done. The Directive has moved with such speed that the voices and needs of victims haven’t been taken into account enough.
We know that EU laws on victims of crime will help a lot. But victims of terrorism have specific needs. Responses by governments, especially where there are large numbers of victims have to be well prepared in advance and specialist for the situation.
The way information is provided, the exact nature of the support that’s available, having in place different judicial procedures to cope with the large number of victims, ensuring cross-border co-operation deals with support and access to justice and not just information are just some of the issues that could have been dealt with.
And of course, if you have been hurt in an attack outside of the EU and return home to the EU, you will not have a right to support. The EU Directive does not envisage this support. So that right will not be available to someone attacked for example on a Tunisian beach.
- So how can you get involved?
Well, you can talk to your governments. You can talk to your MEPS and tell them what problems exist and what the EU should do to help victims of terrorism.
There is only a short time – until 7 April – but your voice can make a difference. And even if we can’t change the Directive completely, the EU can do much more to help victims – but they need to hear from everyone that this is important.
- What will Victim Support Europe do?
Victim Support Europe has been privileged to work with experts across the world in the last few weeks to better understand what needs to be done to get it right for victims of terrorism.
We will be lobbying the European Parliament in the weeks to come and will propose amendments we feel will make a difference. But we too are realistic about how much can be achieved through this Directive.
That is why we are committed to publishing our own recommendations on how victims of terrorism need to be supported. We will continue to work with the European Commission as well as with the UN an national and international organisations to make sure plans, policies, laws and practices are in place for victims of terrorism.