With regard to the European Day of Victims of Crime, which is being marked this Monday, the Minister of Justice guaranteed that the Portuguese presidency of the European Union wants to materialize a common plan for the protection of victims.
In statements to TSF, the Minister of Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, explained that it is necessary to “give priority to particularly vulnerable victims: children, older people, those victims who, in fact, may have limitations in access, both in advance and in terms of information. complaint”.
Still according to Van Dunem, the main objective is “to have the same level of protection, regardless of the country in which people reside“.
“We obviously have specific rules for the protection of some categories of victims, but it was important that these rules were common and shared rules, so that victims of the same nature can have the same protection, regardless of where they are,” he told the media. TSF.
The Portuguese Presidency of the European Union guarantees that the European strategy for the protection of victims is one of the priorities in the area of justice.
Increase in crime cases due to pandemic
Francisca Van Dunem also highlighted the increase in cases of violence and crime in following the covid-19 pandemic, highlighting various measures for the protection of victims in both criminal and civil terms.
The Minister of Justice points out in an opinion article published this Monday, European Day for the Victim of Crime, in the Daily News, that the covid-19 pandemic created conditions for the increase in cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation of child pornography.
“In another dimension, it also increased the number of victims of racism and xenophobia and hate speech, in more or less elaborate formulations”, he stressed, emphasizing that annually, in the European Union, one in seven people is a victim of crime, data that includes children, women and victims of terrorism.
“Within the framework of the Council of Europe it is estimated that 120 million people – representing about 15% of the citizens of its 47 member states – are victims of serious crimes”, he stresses.
The Minister of Justice recalls that “internally, the 2015 victim’s status, transposing the European Directive 2012/29 / EU into national law, created a transversal framework of support and protection for victims in criminal proceedings, complementing the regimes already in force regarding the protection of witnesses, the granting of compensation to victims of violent crimes and the protection of victims of domestic violence ”.
According to Francisca Van Dunem, the successive criminal policy laws emphasize, in their specific objectives, the protection of especially vulnerable victims, including children and young people, pregnant women and the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the disabled. immigrants.
The minister recalls that measures have recently been taken, such as the creation of Victim Support Offices in Departments of Investigation and Penal Action, which “reflect an option to reinforce the centrality of the victim’s role and greater articulation between the institutions responsible for their training, support and protection ”.
Also recalls that in the framework of the European Union, since 2001, several legal instruments of guaranteeing victims’ rights, the most recent being targeted at specific categories of victims, such as victims of terrorism.
According to the minister, in June 2020, the European Commission presented the first European Union Strategy for Victims’ Rights 2020-2025, which identifies a wide range of actions and measures to be carried out at the level of the Union and member states.
Francisca Van Dunem points out that in the second half of 2020, under the presidency of Germany, the Council of Ministers of the European Union paid particular attention to the victims of hate crimes and underlined that the Portuguese presidency maintains the protection of victims among its priorities and will give a special focus on the most vulnerable, both in criminal and civil terms.
In the opinion of Francisca Van Dunem, it is necessary to ensure the proper transposition of the 2012 directive in all member states, to support and encourage good practices, such as the inclusion of victim support services in “essential services” in the context of crisis, to implement a European platform for victims’ rights.
Francisca Van Dunem considers it “essential to ensure that, within the Union, all victims, regardless of nationality or residence, see the same level of protection ensured, are treated with the proper respect and dignity, are able to report the crime without fear, to actively participate in the criminal proceedings and to guarantee their right to compensation for the damage suffered and support in recovery consequences of the crime ”.
Established by action of the Victim Support Europe, an organization that brings together victim support services from 31 European countries, the European Day of the Victim of Crime aims to highlight the rights of all victims of crime and serves as an alert to reassess your protection needs.
Portugal has the lowest levels of violence
Despite the increase in cases of violence and crime during the pandemic, Portugal is at the forefront of Europe in terms of physical violence, with 4% of cases, according to a report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, to which the agency Lusa had access.
In what is described as the first comprehensive survey on the crime experience among the population of the EU (including the United Kingdom and North Macedonia, the only non-EU country that has observer status with the Fundamental Rights Agency), it was concluded that in the year preceding the survey, almost one in three Europeans were victims of harassment (representing 110 million people) and 22 million were physically assaulted.
The study – which involved 35,000 respondents, of which around 1,000 were Portuguese, between January and October 2019 – reveals that 9% of people in the EU have experienced some form of violence in the past five years, with national percentages varying between 3% and 18 percent.
In Portugal, 4% said they were physically assaulted, percentage only surpassed by Malta and Italy. At the opposite extreme are Estonia, Finland and the Czech Republic.
In Portugal, one third of physical violence is attributed to family members, followed by friends and neighbors and other acquaintances, and 34% of cases occurred at home, followed by public spaces (gardens, parks, street) and restaurants, cafes and shops .
In 79% of cases, violence was perpetrated by men.
However, only 14% of the victims reported physical aggression, with 44% justifying having “dealt with the matter alone”. The fear of reprisals (25%) and the incompetence of the police (21%) are other reasons given for not reporting.
In the context of the misinformation that relates crime to immigration, the FRA asked the victims for the description of the aggressors, namely about their ethnic and national origins.
A Most Europeans did not identify ethnic and migratory traits in aggressors, with the Portuguese occupying the second place among those who exclude this connection, only behind Finland.
With regard to harassment, the Portuguese also recorded an average below that of Europe, with 24% saying they had been victims in the last five years (against 41% of Europeans).
Online harassment reduces the percentage to 4% (against 14% in the EU). In this case, the main reason (46%) for not reporting the aggressions is the devaluation of what happened – “it was not serious enough”.
Unlike physical violence, almost half of the cases in harassment were perpetrated by strangers.
In 78% of cases of violence, the Portuguese did not resort to the support of any organization, be it a hospital, legal protection or a victim support service.
The report also assessed theft crimes, with Portugal registering the lowest rate of cases in the last five years (2%, compared to the European average of 8%), and fraud, with Portugal registering 9% (compared to the average 26%), just ahead of Cyprus.