IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT Submission on Heads of Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2015

22nd September 2015

IPRT made a submission to the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for written submissions in relation to General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2015.

IPRT broadly welcomes the implementation of the EU Victims' Rights Directive as a positive step forward for reform of Irish law. Recognising the harm caused to victims of crime is a central function of the criminal justice system. IPRT believes that it is necessary to protect and promote the human rights of everyone within the penal system, and that this is possible through careful scrutiny and implementation of the proposed Directive.

View the IPRT submission here.

Key points:

  • IPRT believes that the Victims’ Rights Directive is a positive move in the development of victims’ rights in Ireland. Domestic legislation on victims’ rights and entitlements is urgently needed, considering there is currently no binding legislation in regards to victims’ entitlements in Ireland.
  • IPRT believes the protection of victims’ rights is neither incompatible nor detrimental to the rights of sentenced persons.
  • In the transposition of the Directive into Irish law, the general principles of equality and non-discrimination, access to justice and due process must be respected.
  • The transposition must take into account all the requirements of the Directive, including paragraph 12 which sets out that the rights set out in the Directive are without prejudice to the rights of the offender.
  • Despite IPRT’s strong endorsement of the Directive, we recommend Government take a cautious approach to any proposals to extend provisions beyond those laid out in the Directive.
  • A detailed human rights impact assessment should be carried out in advance of the extension of any such proposals in order to avoid potential breaches of Ireland’s national and international human rights obligations.
  • As recommended by the Commission, implementation of the Directive will benefit from involving all relevant stakeholders, including civil society.
  • The transposition of the Directive should be informed by international evidence and best practice of what works to support victims while also supporting rehabilitation and reduction in reoffending.