Ireland has opportunity to ‘blaze trail’ on victims’ rights, conference hears

International conference on victims’ rights opened by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD hears international perspectives on strengthening the rights of victims when dealing with Gardaí and the criminal justice system. 

PRESS RELEASE – STRICT EMBARGO UNTIL 9AM, FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2014

 

Ireland has the opportunity to ‘blaze a trail’ for the rights of crime victims, an international conference in Dublin heard today (Friday 14 November 2014).

The conference, opened by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and jointly hosted by the Victims’ Rights Alliance (VRA) and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties-led JUSTICIA European Rights Network, was convened to explore the legal and administrative infrastructure needed to facilitate the provision of adequate information, support and protection to all victims of crime, as provided for by the EU Victims’ Rights Directive, due to be incorporated into Irish law next year.

The conference came in the wake of fresh revelations in the Garda Inspectorate’s latest report of serious deficiencies in the Garda Síochána’s approach to victims of crime. 

Commenting on the recently-published Garda Inspectorate report, Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) Director Mark Kelly said:

“The Inspectorate’s report on crime investigation rightly notes that front-line gardaí and detectives recognise the importance of updating victims, but often cannot find the time to do so.  Incentives for this to improve would appear to be lacking as the Inspectorate has also found that there is no formal process to monitor the quality and service provided to victims. Overall, it seems clear that there is an inconsistent approach to updating victims and no national Garda standard as to how or when contact with victims should take place.  The EU Victims’ Rights Directive provides a useful framework within which Garda practice in this area could be enhanced and we welcome the Inspectorate’s recommendation that the information provided by the Gardaí to victims should be updated in the light of the Directive.”

“More action is needed, including the development of a national implementation plan for the EU Victims’ Directive. By ensuring that this Directive is fully implemented, Ireland has a real opportunity to blaze a trail for victims’ rights.”

Conference contributor Mr Susheel Gupta, Vice-Chair of Canadian Human Rights Tribunal & spokesperson for Air India Victims' Families Association said:

“Victims of crime do not just struggle with the consequences of the criminal act itself. They struggle to be listened to by the authorities. They struggle to be named and recognized as victims. They struggle to have their voices heard and they struggle to have the justice system address their needs.  This is a problem facing criminal justice systems across Europe, including in Ireland. In fully implementing the Victims’ Directive, Ireland will go a long way towards addressing the struggles that many families – families like mine – have faced in the aftermath of crime.” 

ENDS

Susheel Gupta and VRA Coordinator Maria McDonald BL are available for comment on broadcast media. For press attendance, and to request advance interviews with the conference speakers (listed below), please contact:

Walter Jayawardene

Communications Manager

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

9-13 Blackhall Place

Dublin 7, Ireland

Tel. + 353 1 799 4503

Mob: +353 87 9981574   

E-mail  walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

www.iccl.ie; www.eujusticia.net

Notes to editor

- The conference, “Implementing and Enforcing the Victims’ Rights Directive” will take place from 9am – 5pm, Friday 14 November 2014, at the Pillar Room, Rotunda Hospital, Parnell Street, Dublin 1

- Broadcast media are also invited to attend the conference, where pre-recorded pieces with conference attendees will be facilitated.

- Speakers attending include:

  • Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD  will open the conference and launch the VRA’s new report at 9.30am
  • Garda Commissioner Noreen O’Sullivan
  • Maria McDonald, Coordinator of the VRA
  • Mark Kelly, Director of the ICCL and Consortium Leader of the JUSTICA European Rights Network
  • Greg Heylin, Victims of Crime Office, Department of Justice
  • Senior representatives of many victims’ rights representatives, including:
    • Joan Deane, AdVIC
    • Maeve Lewis, One in Four
    • Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (see full lineup below)

 

- International speakers attending include Mr Susheel Gupta, Vice-Chair of Canadian Human Rights Tribunal & spokesperson for Air India Victims' Families Association. Mr Gupta’s mother died in the Air India bombing, which claimed the lives of over 300 people off the Cork Coast in 1985.

- Photos from the morning session, including Minister Fitzgerald opening remarks and launch of the VRA Report, will be filed by Ciaran McGowan of Collins photo to all newsdesks.  Press photographers are welcome to attend the later conference sessions to take photographs of the proceedings.

- The conference will explore “Implementing and Enforcing the Victims’ Rights Directive” from multiple expert perspectives. Topics covered will include:

  • The need for better victim support services
  • The voice of the victim, including vulnerable victims, in proceedings
  • Complaint procedures for crime victims
  • Enforcing the EU Directive on Victims of Crime

- Conference proceedings will be live tweeted, using the #VRACONF hashtag.

The Victims’ Rights Alliance (VRA) is an Alliance of victims support and human rights organisations in Ireland. The VRA’s latest report, launching at Friday’s conference, examines the legal and administrative infrastructure in place to facilitate the provision of information, support and protection to all victims of crime as provided for by the EU Victims’ Rights Directive.  

JUSTICIA, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties-led European Rights Network is a trans-European network based in 19 EU Member States working on EU criminal justice policy, with a focus on the rights of victims of crime, and procedural rights.

LIST OF SPEAKERS

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, opening the conference at 9.30am

Garda Commissioner Noreen O’Sullivan

Mr Susheel Gupta, Vice-Chair of Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and spokesperson for Air India Victims' Families Association

Maria McDonald BL (VRA)

Mark Kelly [Director ICCL and Coordinator of JUSTICIA]

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, DRCC – Chair

Jessica Hill, UK Department of Justice - Speaking on the Track-my-crime website - for Police Service

John Hayward-Cripps, Locality Director (South) Victim Support /Witness Service [UK]

Marie Brown, Director, Northern Ireland Derry Family Justice Centre and Foyle Women’s Aid

Dr. Andrea Ryan, University of Limerick – Chair

Susheel Gupta, Vice-Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

Maria Giovanna Manieri, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)

Joan Deane, AdVIC

Hilkka Becker – Immigrant Council of Ireland

Maria McDonald BL – Chair

Greg HeylIn, Victims of Crime Office, Department of Justice

Katarzyna Janicka-Pawlowska, Legal officer, European Commission, DG Justice, Procedural Criminal Law

Dr. Helgard van Hüllen, Vice President of Victim Support Europe

Maeve Lewis, One in Four – Chair

Sue O’Sullivan, Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Canada.

 

 


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