The Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union adopted the Budapest Roadmap for victim protection on 10 June. The Roadmap creates the possibility for Europe-wide protection of victims.
The Hungarian government has treated the issues of victim protection and victim assistance as priorities during its EU presidency. Within this, the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, with the support of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, organised an international conference on victim protection on 23-24 March 2011 in Budapest. On 10 June 2011, the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU adopted the Budapest Roadmap for victim protection. The Roadmap creates the possibility for Europe-wide protection of victims, as it gives priority to measures for the protection of victims of crime.
Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, said at the press conference that the Stockholm Roadmap adopted earlier had helped protect the rights of the accused, and the Budapest Roadmap – by protecting the rights of victims – will provide a balance. Following the conference, which outlined future directions, Hungary developed its own roadmap for victim protection. This work was undertaken by the Cabinet of Róbert Répássy, Minister of State for Justice, and the Department for Justice Services in the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. This gives guidance and direction to the Council of the European Union, and within the EU it contributes to an efficient and high-quality system for victim support.
When outlining the functions of victim protection in Hungary, Róbert Répássy said, ‘During the preparation of the Roadmap, we took into consideration proposals for solving the problems and shortcomings of the victim protection system both at domestic and European level, the research and studies carried out by European Union institutions and national and international non-governmental organisations, and questions and proposals raised by the Department for Justice Services in the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice (KIMISZ). In order to protect European Union citizens our primary task is to ensure that within crime prevention victims receive support in the broadest sense.’
Beyond general principles, the Roadmap proposes concrete measures as well, such as the replacement of the Framework Decision and a new directive with expanded content. The Roadmap deals with the recognition of victim status, support and protection, access to justice, compensation, coordinating the cooperation of governmental and non-governmental institutions operating in the field of victim protection, the training of professionals in contact with victims, awareness-raising, and questions regarding data collection and research. It makes proposals to create a regulation on the mutual recognition of measures taken in matters of civil defence and supplementing the contents of the Directive on victim compensation. Issues of special importance are special victim groups (children, people with disabilities, victims of trafficking and sexual violence) and definition of their needs according to the type of offence and the characteristics of the victim.
The Roadmap will also pay particular attention to children as a vulnerable victim group. The Minister of State for Justice pointed out that, in addition to expanding rights during prosecution, the aim should be to ensure that all European Union citizens are protected at the same level in the event of an offence, regardless of the Member State in which they have become victims. He added, ‘The coordination and mutual recognition of different legal systems is essential, because our task is to create a common legal culture. However, these objectives can only be realised by the cooperation of all Member States and civil society organisations.’