It is important that victims have a say in criminal proceedings against the offender. While the main purpose of criminal proceedings is to assess the responsibility of the offender(s), in general victims may participate actively and in their own right. The 2012 Directive on Victims' Rights strengthens victims' rights including procedural rights.
The role of victims in criminal proceedings and the relevant law of the Member States differ considerably from one Member State to another. To ensure minimum level of victims' rights in all Member States, the EU has adopted several EU legal instruments setting up common rules aimed at protecting and assisting victims of crime: horizontal instruments dealing with victims’ rights in general, more specific instruments on protection measures and financial compensation to victims of crime and on substantive law instruments regarding trafficking in human beings and child sexual exploitation.
The EU Member States must implement the provisions of the Directive into their national laws by 16 November 2015. DG Justice has issued a guidance document to assist Member States in this process. This document clarifies every provision of the Directive and suggests possible ways of their implementation. It helps national authorities, practitioners and relevant service providers to understand what is required to make the victims' rights set out in the Directive a reality everywhere in the EU.
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