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Restorative justice in the 2012 EU Victims Directive: a right to quality service, but no right to equal access for victims of crime.

Lauwaert, Katrien
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Restorative Justice: An International Journal. 1(3):414-425.

There have been many European and international victims’ rights instruments in the past, yet due to their weak or non-binding nature, serious issues remain in the implementation of victims’ rights throughout Europe. This is particularly true of the 2001 EU Framework Decision (hereinafter FD) on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, which was—until 2012—the only EU provision referring to restorative justice (hereinafter RJ). As of 2012, the EU Victims Directive provides stronger rights, but its true impact remains to be seen. These ‘notes from the field’ provide a brief introduction to this Directive. They go on to show how the provision on RJ in the Directive is almost exclusively focused on providing safeguards for victims of crime participating in RJ processes to protect them from secondary and repeat victimisation, from intimidation and retaliation. A right to equal access—paramount for the further development of RJ in Europe— is not explicitly provided for in the text of the Directive. Access, then, may be obtained through information about restorative justice, free services, increasing availability, procedures allowing for self-referrals and a broader discretion as to who is eligible to obtain RJ services. This text will examine how the Directive has both met and fallen short of meeting these issues.


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