VOCIARE Report: The Implementation of The Victims’ Directive in Romania

08.08.2019 / 13:46 / News

We are pleased to announce the successful completion of the European project Vociare: Victims of Crime Implementation Analysis of Rights in Europe, coordinated by Victim Support Europe (VSE) and The Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV), in which ACTEDO was a partner, together with 20 other organisation across Europe.

The goal of the project, which ran between 2017 and 2019, was to analyze the implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (the Victims’ Directive) in all EU states*, to map common gaps and identify good practices.

The final outcome of the project is 26 National Reports and a Synthesis Report which compiles information from the National Reports and presents the main findings of these European-wide research effort.

The report on Romania, authored by our colleague, Alexandra Columban, contains the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • Romania needs to develop generic support services for victims of crime, as it is currently among the few EU states that do not have such services. In addition, specialised support services (such as shelter, psychological counselling, legal assistance) are offered either by the state-run Social Services (General Directions for Welfare and Child Protection and Public Services of Social Assistance) or by NGOs. However, they are are insufficient, oftentimes inadequate for victims’ needs and poorly distributed geographically. In addition, these
    services are usually limited to children victims of abuse and neglect, victims of domestic violence and of human trafficking, instead of including all victims of crime.
  • While Romania has made progress on the victims’ right to protection by introducing the protection order in 2012 , this instrument is still, to a considerable extent, inefficient, as sanctions are rarely applied if the offender violates the protection order. There is also a systematic failure of the police to intervene in cases of domestic violence and violation of protection orders, which perpetuates a culture of impunity for aggressors. In addition, this instrument may only be accessed by victims of domestic violence, although victims of gender-based violence, including sexual violence and trafficking, committed by a non-family member may be equally prone to abuse and retaliation.
  • Although it is essential for the protection of victims, the individual assessment of victims to identify specific protection needs is not usually carried out by judicial authorities. The Code of Criminal Procedure states that certain categories of victims are presumed to be vulnerable, including victims of violence, children, victims of hate crime and human trafficking, but does not specify an obligation to tailor protection measures, which leaves victims vulnerable to abuse and intimidation from the offender.
  • With regard to victims’ right to information from the first contact with a competent authority, as well as about their case throughout the criminal proceedings, there is a lack of regulations and measures to ensure that victims are indeed informed about their rights and role in the proceedings and that they understand the information that is communicated to them.
  • There is a need for (more) interdisciplinary training programmes for professionals that come in contact with victims of crime – police officers, prosecutors, judges, attorneys, as well as representatives of victim support organisations, psychologists and social workers – who should come together to ensure an efficient, multifaceted intervention.
  • More efforts need to be channelled into improving cross-sectorial cooperation and referral, which would not only encourage the exchange of good practices between public and private actors, but also ensure a more efficient response to victims’ needs.
  • More funding from public and private sources needs to be allocated to victim support services, in order to ensure that victims of crime receive the information, protection and support they need. This includes actively supporting victim support organisations, increasing the annual budget for public legal aid, regulating and removing restrictions to the practice of pro bono lawyering, supporting capacity building activities, as well as financing national programmes aimed at reducing violence and supporting victims.

 

Read the full VOCIARE Report Romania: Implementation of Victims’ Rights. More information about the project and the national reports on other EU states here.

 

*Except the UK and Denmark.