RCNI welcome EU Vicitms’ Directive transposition as a good day for survivors but cautions on inadequate resourcing.
Today, the 16th of November, is a historic day for survivors of sexual violence as the European Victims’ Directive comes into force in Ireland putting significant extra obligations on the Irish State in what RCNI describe as a ‘win win’ situation.
Clíona Saidléar head of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said, ‘today marks a historic moment in transforming our culture and responses to sexual violence survivors and all survivors of crime so that they are supported and respected, in joined-up ways, both inside and outside the justice process.
‘This Directive gives all survivors, whether they report the crime or not, a set of additional rights. These rights include a right to access free and specialist support services such as Rape Crisis Centres which must now be adequately funded. Importantly under this Directive, survivors will have these additional rights whether they choose to report the crime to the authorities or not. We must now ensure survivors are informed, at the earliest possible opportunity, about what is theirs by right.
‘We call on government to ensure our capacity to meet survivors’ needs in the manner obligated by the Directive. We continue to engage with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald and her team who are finalising the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2015 but we also urge the Minister to pay attention to the resource implications of the Directive as we fear current allocations are inadequate.
Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Director said, ‘addressing delay and training is what is going to make this Directive really work for survivors. No matter whom survivors interact with, from first responders right through the criminal justice system, they should receive a consistent and excellent response from that person or agency, one that hears them, respects their rights and dignity and works professionally and diligently to meet their needs.
‘What we know is that treating survivors well means better investigations, survivors staying with the criminal justice process and ultimately more perpetrators held to account. This is a win win change for victims in our legal system.
‘With this Directive we are essentially moving to a criminal justice system where the victim has additional rights which neither the State nor the person accused will be able to ignore, in the course of investigative and court proceedings. These rights should reduce the levels of fear and re-traumatisation experienced by victims of sexual violence as they go through each stage of the criminal justice process, and for this reason also are very much welcomed.
· Link to the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32012L0029&from=EN
· Rape Crisis Centres have seen their funding cut by up to 30% over the years since 2008
· RCNI funding from Tusla was cut in its entirety by Tusla in 2015. That money has not been redistributed to centres. Centres have not received funding to support the policy, standards, training and guidance requirements upon then to be compliant with the law and contract conditions, neither have they received resources to collect data in the manner required of them by the funder (Tusla), all of which were previously supported by the RCNI for member centres.
· A significant increase in demand on services is anticipated from the directive being implemented with much more effective referrals from all agencies, so far there is no indication from the funder or government that there will be a corresponding increase in funding.