Tánaiste publishes new bill aimed at giving more rights to victims of crime

Victims’ Rights Alliance described the publication as a 'highly significant moment for victims of crime in Ireland'

Tánaiste publishes new bill aimed at giving more rights to victims of crime

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The Tánaiste and Justice Minister has published a new bill aimed at giving more rights to the victims of crime.

Victims will be able to request a review if there is a decision not to prosecute those accused of committing the crime.

People will also have the right to provide a victim impact statement in each case, as well as offering new rights to information on the progress of investigations or court proceedings.

Under the proposed new laws, victims' cases would be assessed and 'special measures' potentially put in place to protect them - measures such as the alleged criminal being kept in Garda custody, or safety & barring orders being issued.

Frances Fitzgerald said: “This Bill will introduce, for the first time, statutory rights for victims of crime. It is time that the rights of victims are given full recognition in the criminal justice system.

"Each victim will be individually assessed so that any special measures necessary to protect him or her from secondary or repeat victimisation can be put in place during the investigation and during the court process," she added.

The Victims’ Rights Alliance (VLA) welcomed the publication of the proposed legislation.

In a statement, Maria McDonald - barrister-at-law and co-ordinator of the VLA - described it as a 'highly significant moment for victims of crime in Ireland'.

She said: "For too long victims of crime have been overlooked in the Irish criminal system. This Bill will improve the day to day experiences of victims of crime In Ireland. We should highlight, however, that there will be difficulties in implementing the Bill.

"We cannot expect the criminal justice system to change overnight, a system which until now has failed to truly acknowledge the needs, rights and interests of victims of crime. A cultural shift will need to happen in order to ensure full compliance with the Victims Directive and the Criminal Law (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016."