As the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill is debated in the Seanad (Weds 27th) RCNI call on the government to put in place a Victims’ Ombudsman to ensure the rights of victims in this Bill and the EU Directive on Victims of Crime are fully vindicated within our justice system.
Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘This Bill and the EU Directive set out measures to ensure that the victim is supported appropriately throughout the justice process. As we know currently only a minority of victims are making the decision to report and stay with the justice process. One of the reasons is a fear of the system, what it will ask of survivors and how re-traumatising the process might be. Without survivors reporting there can be no adequate justice response.’
Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Director said, ‘Because we believe that supporting survivors is fundamental to delivering justice we are calling for a dedicated structure, a Victims’ Ombudsman Office, whose sole remit is reception and investigation of transgressions of this Act. Its procedures should be simple, free, easy to use and swift. The measures in this important Bill will alleviate much of the trauma of a trial, an Ombudsman will ensure survivors’ rights under the law are fully vindicated.
‘RCNI would also very much welcome a justice culture where the norm is that victims’ direct evidence is pre-recorded and used in court cases in all but the most exceptional circumstances as determined by a judge. It is important to understand that the recording of evidence does not interfere with a defendant’s right to a fair trial but rather lifts part of the stress of testifying from victims.’
For more contact Cliona on 087 2196447
Notes: RCNI is a member of the Victims’ Rights Alliance, which also recommends the establishment of such an Ombudsman structure.