FAQ

What is the ‘Victims Rights Directive’?

The so-called ‘Victims Rights Directive’, in full the ‘EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime’ (2012/29/EU) provides the opportunity to advance access to rights and justice for victims in Europe. The Directive regulates aspects of criminal proceedings within the EU, promotes non-discrimination and equality as well as the provision of information, support and protection to victims. The Directive of 2012 has to become part of Maltese law by November 2015.

What is a crime?

A crime is a criminal offence. It is an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the State and is punishable by law. A crime is a wrong against society as well as a violation of the individual rights of victims. The Directive clearly requires that, as such, victims of crime should be recognised and treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner without discrimination of any kind based on any ground such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability.

What is not a crime?

A crime does not include purely private incidents such as separations, inheritance, rent, insurance,lost/found or damaged property, and injury or sickness.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a criminal offence where the offender has the aim of hurting the victim because of personal elements such as his/her race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability. The offence is committed because the offender has a bias motive. This specific motive makes hate crimes different to other crimes. This type of crime can “be an act of intimidation, threats, property damage, assault, murder or any other criminal offence.” A person’s intolerance and bigotry could also be the trigger of violent actions.

 

Maltese law does not defined the term ‘hate crime’. However, Section 83B of the Criminal Code says that the punishment for any offence shall be increased when the offence is wholly or partially aggravated or motivated by hatred against a person or a group due to his/her or their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, ethnic origin, religion or belief or political or other opinion.

Am I a victim?

You are a victim if you have suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss directly caused by a criminal offender. It is possible that you as a family member of the victim are also harmed as a result of a crime. In particular, if you are a family member of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence and you have suffered harm as a result of that person’s death, you are also a victim. A person is considered as a victim regardless of whether an offender is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between them.

Where and how do I report a crime?

If you have been a victim of crime in Malta it is recommended that once you are out of danger you file a report at the closest police station. You should give as many details as possible, as this will enable the identification of the perpetrator. With some crimes, once you have filed a report and the person responsible is identified, you can choose whether or not to press charges.

 

Malta Police Force (government)

Address: Police General Headquarters, Pjazza San Kal?idonju, Floriana FRN 1530, Malta

Phone: Headquarters 21224001/9; Crime stop 119; Emergency 112

E-Mail: cmru.police@gov.mt

Web: www.pulizija.gov.mt

If I go to the police, will there be a comprehensive police report?

If you go to the police to report your case, a comprehensive police report should be compiled, gathering all the details as you gave them to the police. You have a right to request a copy of the report.

Is there an Emergency Support available around the clock, 7 days a week? Which number can I call in an urgent case?

In Malta the 179 national 24-hours Supportline, run by a team of professionally trained volunteers, offers support and information about local social welfare services and other agencies.  As a victim of crime you may be referred to the entity that can offer you the assistance you might need.

 

The Supportline is a national service for people who are in times of difficulty or crisis such as child abuse, domestic violence, drug/alcohol/gambling problems and others.The primary mission of the Supportline 179 service is to provide immediate and unbiased help to those seeking information, support and/or require a referral to other agencies.

 

Moreover, Malta provides the Helpline 116 123 which offers emotional support to callers suffering from loneliness, those who find themselves in a state of psychological crisis, and those who require emotional support due to various life situations they might be encountering. All calls received on 116 123 are also dealt with by the team of the 179 Supportline. The service is available to all local and foreign citizens in Malta. The aim is to have one international number recognisable in all EU Member States, available for all persons living in Europe.

I am afraid of being targeted again, especially if I file a police report or a complaint. Can I be protected?

Ask for assistance! Some victims are at risk of being targeted and victimized during and possibly after criminal proceedings. Such a risk can be effectively identified through an individual assessment carried out at the earliest opportunity.

 

The assessment should be carried out for all victims to determine whether they are at risk of secondary or repeat victimisation. The individual assessment will take into account the victim’s personal characteristics such as his or her age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, residence status, communication difficulties, relationship to or dependence on the offender and previous experience of crime.

 

Victims identified as vulnerable to repeat victimisation are entitled to individual protection measures in accordance with their needs. These protection measures will be identified during the individual assessment. Protection measures can include protection orders, restraining orders, ‘garanzija personali’, bail conditions, and accommodation in a shelter.

As a victim what support services should I receive, and how do I apply for them?

As a victim of a crime, you are entitled you a series of support services:

 

a) Information, advice and support relevant to the rights of victims including on accessing national compensation schemes for criminal injuries, and on their role in criminal proceedings including preparation for attendance at the trial;

 

b) Information about or direct referral to any relevant specialist support services in place;

 

c) Emotional and, where available, psychological support;

 

d) Advice relating to financial and practical issues arising from the crime;

 

e) Unless otherwise provided by other public or private services, advice relating to the risk and prevention of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation.

 

The Directive obliges Malta to encourage victim support services to pay particular attention to the specific needs of victims who have suffered considerable harm due to the severity of the crime.

 

Support services are offered by various agencies.  When you contact Victim Support Malta, we will provide you with the available support service or link you to the specific service provided by other agencies. You can apply for the relevant support services by sending an email to coordinator@victimsupport.org.mt or call 21228333

I cannot afford a lawyer or legal advice. Which agencies can help me? What are their contact details?

Malta provides free legal aid to persons who cannot otherwise access the Courts of Law. You are entitled to this free service if you are declared as not having the financial means to access court, generally following an assessment of your claim regarding your financial situation. Legal aid will be granted if you do not earn an income that exceeds the national minimum wage and do not hold property exceeding a particular value (excluding your matrimonial home, if any). In criminal cases, this financial means test is not applied.

 

Legal aid may granted to you if you wish to institute proceedings against a third party or wish to defend yourself against claims brought against you.

 

Currently, Malta does not provide free legal aid service to victims of crimes.

 

The request for legal aid may be made either by filing an application before the Civil Court or even orally to theAdvocate for Legal Aid, below.

 

State Court Legal Aid Office, Law Courts (government)

Address: Republic Street, Valletta VLT 1112, Malta

Things to know about justice in Malta

I am not Maltese, can I be given access legal aid?

The legal aid agencies and free legal aid services (governmental and non-governmental) are available for Maltese citizens as well as for non-Maltese persons.

 

Besides the State Court Legal Aid Office, there are a number of non-governmental organisations that offer free legal consultations, depending on the nature of the crime and of the victim:

 

Victim Support Malta (non-governmental)
Contact us

 

Aditus foundation (non-governmental)

Address: 149 Old Mint Street, Valletta VLT 1513, Malta

Phone: +356 2010 6295

E-mail:  info@aditus.org.mt

Web: www.aditus.org.mt

 

Jesuit Refugee Service (non-governmental)

Address: St. Aloysius’ Sports Complex, 50 Triq ix-Xorrox, Birkirkara BKR 1631, Malta

Phone: (+356) 21 44 2751

E-Mail: info@jrsmalta.org

Web: www.jrsmalta.org

I am looking for emotional support/ psychological aid. Which agencies can help me? What are their contact details?

Victim Support Malta (non-governmental)

Contact us

 

Mater Dei Hospital – Clinical Psychologists (government)

Address: Mater Dei Hospital, Msida MSD 2090, Malta

Phone: Clinical Psychologists (+356) 2545 6900; Social Workers (+356) 2545 5570

E-Mail: mgh@gov.mt

Web: www.health.gov.mt

 

Richmond Foundation Malta (non-governmental)

Address: 424, St. Joseph High Road, Santa Venera SVR 1013, Malta

Phone: (+356) 2122 4580; (+356) 2148 2336; (+356) 2148 00 45

E-Mail: info@richmond.org.mt

Web: www.richmond.org.mt8

 

Saint James Hospital – Clinical Psychologists (private)

Phone: (+356) 2329 1000

E-Mail: info@stjameshospital.com

Web: www.stjameshospital.com

I am not safe, I am looking for shelter and safe accommodation. Which agencies can help me? What are their contact details?

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If you need a shelter or safe accommodation you may contact the following organisations:

 

Agenzija Appogg Head Office – local crime victim assistance agency (government)

Address: 36, St. Luke’s Road, G’Mangia, Pieta PTA 1318, Malta

Phone: (+356) 2295 9000

E-Mail: appogg@gov.mt

Web: http://fsws.gov.mt/en/appogg/Pages/welcome-appogg.aspx

 

Caritas Malta (non-governmental)

Address: 5, Lion Street, Floriana FRN 1514, Malta

Phone: (+356)2590 6600

E-Mail: info@caritasmalta.org

Web: www.caritasmalta.org

 

FSM Malta – Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants (non-governmental)

Marsa Open Centre

Address: Xatt Il-Mollijiet, Marsa MRS 1511, Malta

Phone: (+356) 21-223671

E-Mail: do@fsmmalta.org

Web: www.fsmmalta.org

 

Malta Housing Authority (government)

Address: Head Office, 22, Pietro Floriani Street, Floriana FRN 1060

Phone: (+356) 2299 1000

E-Mail: customer.care@ha.gov.mt

Web: www.housingauthority.com.mt

 

YMCA Homeless (non-governmental)

Address: 178 Merchants Street, Valletta VLT 1174 , Malta

Phone: (+356) 21240680

E-Mail: info@ymcahomless.org

Web: www.ymcahomeless.org

 

Dar Merhba Bik (non-governmental)

Phone: (+356) 2144 0035

E-Mail: merhbabik@onvol.net

I am looking for medical aid. Which agencies can help me? What are their contact details?

There are several public hospitals, a few private hospitals and health centres for each district in Malta. The link below gives further information and a detailed list of all hospitals.

 

Mater Dei Hospital (government)

Address: Mater Dei Hospital, Msida MSD 2090, Malta

Phone: Main Reception (+356) 2545 4182; Clinical Psychologists (+356) 2545 6900; Social Workers (+356) 2545 5570

E-Mail: mgh@gov.mt

Web: http://health.gov.mt

 

Health Care Centres (government)

The health care centre for each district in Malta that offers medical and nursing services can be found through the following link: http://health.gov.mt

I am looking for services for children. Which agencies can help me? What are their contact details?

Agenzija Appogg Head Office – National agency for child welfare (government)

Address: 36, St. Luke’s Road, G’Mangia, Pieta PTA 1318, Malta

Phone: (+356) 2295 9000

E-Mail: appogg@gov.mt

Web: http://fsws.gov.mt/en/appogg/Pages/welcome-appogg.aspx

 

Office of the Commissioner for Children (government)

Address:  16/18 Dawret It-Torri, St. Lucia , Malta

Phone: (+356) 2148 5180

E-Mail: cfc@gov.mt

Web: www.tfal.org.mt

 

Richmond Foundation Malta (non-governmental)

Address: 424, St. Joseph High Road, Santa Venera SVR 1013, Malta

Phone: (+356) 2122 4580; (+356) 2148 2336; (+356) 2148 00 45

E-Mail: info@richmond.org.mt

Web: www.richmond.org.mt

As a victim can I ask for compensation from the offender?

Under Malta’s ‘Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme’ victims may apply for compensation for the damages they suffered by the crime. The Scheme is not open for all kinds of crimes, meaning you would need to seek advice as to whether your situation is eligible. Applications are to be submitted on the appropriate application form, accompanied by a police report and submitted not later than one year from when the crime was committed. Victims may apply, as also the victims’ dependents and the Scheme is open to Maltese citizens, EU nationals and habitual residents of Malta.

Applications are received at:

Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government

Address: 30, Old Treasury Street, Valletta, Malta

Phone: (+356) 2201 3000

 

Office of the Attorney General (governmental)

Address: The Palace, Republic Street, Valletta, Malta

Phone: (+356) 2122 5401

 

Victim Support Malta (non-governmental)

Contact us

 

Together with the above claim for compensation, as a victim you are entitled to file a civil case against the perpetrator and ask for compensation for the damage you suffered. This is different to a criminal case as it is your action against the perpetrator, and not the police intervening. For this kind of action, legal aid is provided by the Government in accordance with rules explained in this document. It is important to note that such cases are generally limited to the material damages actually suffered, such as damage to your property, as well as to those damages you will suffer due to a form of disability caused by the crime, e.g. limited work opportunities.

Can I claim reimbursement of expenses related to the crime?

The Directive says that Malta should give victims the possibility of claiming such expenses, and that you should be given information about these procedures from the first contact with the public authorities. Information can, for example, be included in an information leaflet or on an appropriate website.

 

So far, it is yet to be seen how these requirements will be included into Maltese law and practice.

 

At the moment there is no procedure whereby victims may claim expenses related to the crime as part of the criminal proceedings. However, as explained above, victims may file separate and independent civil proceedings directly against the perpetrator to claim compensation, damages and also relate expenses.

Which different stages are there during criminal procedures? How long do they take?

Following your report and the investigation by the police, court procedures could be initiated by the police against the person they believe committed the crime.

 

Court procedures could take between a couple of weeks and a couple of years, depending on various factors such as the complexity of the investigations and the number of witnesses. Procedures open with the accused being formally charged in court, followed by various stages where the police and the accused are given the opportunity to present all their evidence. Such evidence will probably include witnesses and, depending on the crime, also a visit to the location where the crime was committed.

 

Although your role in the trial will be more of an indirect one, as a victim you are entitled to not only be present during the trial, but also to be represented by a lawyer to ensure that your interests are protected throughout. It is important to remember that the only parties to the case are the police, representing the State, and the accused. Sometimes, the Office of the Attorney General replaces the police, usually for the more serious crimes.

 

You will probably be asked to testify as a witness, since your version of the events could be useful for the judge or magistrate to understand exactly what happened. Since witnesses are not permitted to sit through the hearings, victims are usually the first witnesses to be heard so that following their testimony they can attend all hearings.

I cannot understand Maltese, how will I follow the procedure?

The judicial process changes language only in favour of the accused, and not of the victim. However, the victim will be allowed to testify in English or in his/her language and translated into Maltese. If the accused does not understand the Maltese Language, when arraigned in court he/she can make a verbal declaration stating so and the court will continue the process in the English language. Nevertheless, all proceedings start in Maltese.

 

Furthermore, the Directive specifies that free interpretation services should be provided during interrogation and questioning by the court. This service should also be provided during meeting with the police and between the victim and the assisting lawyer. So far, it is yet to be seen how this obligation will be implemented into Maltese law and practice.

How does travelling from one Member State to another affect my protection?

The Directive establishes a mechanism for the mutual recognition of protection measures between EU Member States. The measures address the specific needs of particular categories of victims, such as victims of human trafficking, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography.

 

Malta has to take the necessary measures to ensure that these protection rights are not made conditional on the victim’s residence status in their territory or on the victim’s citizenship or nationality.

Does the Directive only apply to Maltese nationals?

The Directive applies to any person regardless of the residence status in the territory or of the victim’s citizenship or nationality. This means that all persons living in Malta, even in an irregular manner, are entitled to the protection services mentioned in this document.

 

It is however important to note that reporting a crime and participating in criminal procedures do not create any rights regarding the residence status of the victim.

What are my rights as a victim of crime?

In all contacts with any authority or service, such as the police, courts, the lawyer or doctor, your personal situation and your immediate needs, age, gender, disability and maturity should be taken into account while fully respecting your physical, mental and moral integrity. As a victim of a crime, you should be protected from secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation.

 

You should receive appropriate support to facilitate your recovery and should be provided with appropriate access to justice.

 

Specifically, victims have the right to receive information from the first contact with the competent authority about the following aspects:

 

a) The type of support they can obtain and from whom, including, where relevant, basic information about access to medical support, any specialist support, including psychological support, and alternative accommodation;

 

b) The procedures for making complaints with regard to a criminal offence and their role in connection with such procedures;

 

c) How and under what conditions they can obtain protection, including protection measures;

 

d) How and under what conditions they can access legal advice, legal aid and any other sort of advice;

 

e) How and under what conditions they can access compensation;

 

f) How and under what conditions they are entitled to interpretation and translation;

 

g) If they are resident in a Member State other than that where the criminal offence was committed, any special measures, procedures or arrangements, which are available to protect their interests in the Member State where the first contact with the competent authority is made;

 

h) The available procedures for making complaints where their rights are not respected by the competent authority operating within the context of criminal proceedings;

 

i) The contact details for communications about their case;

 

j) Available restorative justice services;

 

k) How and under what conditions expenses incurred as a result of their participation in the criminal proceedings can be reimbursed.

 

The extent or detail of information referred to in paragraph 1 may vary depending on the specific needs and personal circumstances of the victim and the type or nature of the crime. Additional details may also be provided at later stages depending on the needs of the victim and the relevance, at each stage of proceedings, of such details.

What about my family?

All the rights contained in the Directive apply to a victim of a crime, and the Directive says that ‘victim’ includes the following persons:

 

1) The person directly suffering the harm caused by the crime; AND

 

2) If the direct victim has died due to the crime, any of the following:
the victim’s spouse;

 

a) The persons living with the victim in a committed intimate relationship;
b) Parents of the victim;
c) The victims’ siblings;
d) The victims’ dependents.

 

This means that all the above persons are entitled to the protection services listed through this document.

 

In all cases, family members (the persons listed above) should have access to victim support services in accordance with their needs and the degree of harm suffered as a result of the crime. Family members should also be protected from secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation.

I don’t want to turn up in court as a witness and face the offender!

As the victim, you may make a request to avoid being physically present before the accused when giving evidence. You can make the request through your lawyer or through the prosecuting officer. This may be a verbal request.

 

Your contact with the offender will be minimized if necessary. The court can establish conditions to enable avoidance of contact between yourself and the offender such as having separate waiting areas. Moreover, you are entitled to demand specialized communication technology such as video-conferencing, telephone or Internet, unless the physical presence of the interpreter is required in order to properly exercise your rights or to understand the proceedings.

If I complain about my experience my name and story will be all over the newspaper!

Freedom of expression and information, and freedom of pluralism of the media have to be respected. However, there is the possibility that the hearing takes place behind closed doors in order to protect your identity and privacy. In sensitive cases, the court may also order that your name and details not be published, to avoid being identified.

I don’t want to go to court, but I want my offender to understand what he/she did to me. Is this possible in Malta?

This is called ‘restorative justice’, and includes services such as victim-offender mediation, sentencing circles or family group conferencing. Restorative justice services primarily consider the interests and needs of the victim in order to repair the harm done and avoid further harm. These services are not available in Malta.

Are children given special treatment in this Directive?

A child victim is any person under the age of 18. The children’s best interest is the primary consideration that will be assessed on an individual basis. A child-sensitive approach, taking due account of the child’s age, maturity, views, needs and concerns, shall prevail.Child victims are considered and treated as the full bearers of rights of the Directive and are entitled to exercise those rights in a manner that takes into account their capacity to form their own views.

 

Child victims have the right to be heard in criminal proceedings. The child and the holder of parental responsibility or other legal representative, if any, shall be informed of any measures or rights specifically focused on the child. In addition, special protection during the court proceedings includes non-disclosure of the name of the child. However, there might be cases where, exceptionally, the child can benefit from the disclosure or even widespread publication of information, for example where a child has been abducted. Interviews with the child should be audio-visually recorded, so they can be used as evidence during the proceedings. The child victim has the right to a lawyer.

 

As children are more vulnerable and tend to experience a high rate of second and repeat victimisation, they need special protection regarding to child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and human trafficking. See the section “Child Services” to get more information about which protection services for children exist in Malta.

As an elderly person I have specific needs. Am I given a special treatment?

As an elderly person you should enjoy the same rights as all other persons, and on an equal basis with others. In addition, all victim support services should pay particular attention in case you have further, specific needs.

As a disabled person I have specific needs. Am I given special treatment?

As a victim with disabilities you should enjoy the same rights as all other persons, and on an equal basis with others. This includes services that ensure accessibility to premises where criminal proceedings are conducted and appropriate access to information. In addition, all victim support services should pay particular attention in case you have further, specific needs.

Where and how do I submit a complaint if the rights contained in this Directive are not respected (e.g. judge or police makes an inappropriate comment)?

You can contact Victim Support Malta if you require support in making a complaint.

As a practitioner, how can I ensure the victims safety during assessment or provision of services? As a police officer, court staff, lawyer, prosecutor, judge, social worker, volunteer, etc. working with victims of crime, what kind of training can I receive? How do get I access to it?

Anyone coming into contact with victims of crimes should have received appropriate training. Such training needs to ensure that service-providers are able to identify victims and their needs, and to deal with them in a respectful, sensitive, professional and non-discrimination manner.

 

It is not yet clear how Malta will be organising such training to various professionals, yet Victim Support Malta is available to offer this training upon request. Contact us

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