Victim Support Malta yesterday said that a law protecting victims of crime, which was passed in April, is not being fully implemented.
The Victims of Crime Act ensures that victims are recognised and treated with respect and dignity, and are protected from further victimisation and intimidation from the offender. It is also there to protect victims from further intimidation from the offender during the criminal justice process.
“Although the law was enacted in April, many measures have not been effective in practice,” said Chairperson of VCM Roberta Lepre. She cited a recent vase where a victim of theft was left uninformed about investigation developments. The victim in question then discovered that certain details of the case were left out of the police report, and was made to testify in court in the presence of the burglar.
The Victim of Crimes Act has been transposed from the EU Victims’ Directive, which contains a number of criteria and objectives all with the scope of protecting a victim from further harm.
“The implementation of laws is often problematic, and such problems may only be overcome through cooperation between various entities,” Dr Lepre said. She spoke of the need for officials and relevant authorities to be adequately trained in dealing with victims of crime. This will help the criminal justice process go more smoothly for victims, whilst also helping officials to understand the new legislation.
Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola also addressed the press conference by video. She said that the legislation on crime victims should be implemented in conjunction with other non-legislative measures due to the fact that legislation changes in practice have been rather slow.
“The framework that introduces these new rights was enacted in April of this year. It ensures the respectful treatment and recognition of victims, protection from intimidation and retaliation, access to justice, and lastly compensation and restoration,” Dr Metsola said.
16,648 crimes were reported in Malta in 2014, 76 of which were assisted by VSM.