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Rights of complainants/survivors

  • Legislation should include a statement of the rights of complainants/survivors. It must promote complainant/survivor safety, agency, and assistance, and prevent the re-victimization of the complainants/survivor. It should remove barriers that may prevent them from seeking safety, such as concerns about child custody, lack of access to shelters or legal aid. For example, the Law of Spain contains a guarantee of victim’s rights at Article 17.

Report of the Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting to review and update the Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Bangkok, (23-25 March 2009)

 Combating violence against women: minimum standards for support services (Council of Europe, 2008) Available in English.

  • The statement of rights should inform the complainant/survivor of legal remedies (such as the protection order and ex parte protection order) and the support services offered by the state.
  • Legislation should require the police to perform certain duties to support the rights of complainant/survivors. See the section on Duties of police.
  • Legislation should state that complainant/survivor receipt of services is not conditional on cooperation with authorities.
  • Support services should include transport to shelters, emergency services, and other support programs for complainants/survivors and their families. Legislation should state that a victim may not be taken to a shelter without consent. For example, Article 14 of the Law on Preventing and Combating Violence in the Family (2007) of Moldova (hereinafter “Law of Moldova”) states that victims may be placed in emergency shelters upon the complainant/survivor’s request, and if the victim is a minor, with the consent of the minor’s legal representative.
  • Legislation should identify the agency or agencies responsible for providing victim services and should clearly describe their responsibilities .
  • Legislation should require that the court administration system that handles cases of domestic violence maintain a staff to provide assistance to domestic violence victims.  See: Family Violence:  A Model State Code.

 Example: The Law of Brazil calls for the creation of Courts of Domestic and Family Violence against Women, which should rely on a “multidisciplinary assistance team made up of professionals specializing in the psychosocial, legal and health areas.” This team is then to provide expert advice to judges, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Public Defense. (Articles 29, 30)

Example: The Law of Spain, provides for specialized Violence against Women courts in which all employees from judges to court clerks must receive training on issues of gender violence and which focuses on “the vulnerability of victims.” (Article 47). 

  • Legislation should provide for economic assistance for complainants/survivors. Complainants/survivors are unable to escape violence if they lack economic independence. Legislation should provide for both short-term and longer- term economic and employment assistance.

Example: the Law of Brazil provides for courts to include complainants/survivors in federal, state, and municipal assistance programmes.  The court's ruling should assure that the complainant/survivor be given priority status for a job transfer if she or he is a civil servant, or guarantees employment for up to six months if the complainant/survivor must leave his or her place of work (Article 9).

 

Example: The Law of Spain contains a comprehensive system of aid to victims: employment rights in Article 21, economic subsidies in Article 27, and priority access to subsidized housing in Article 28.

(See: the United Nations Model Framework, which outlines a “statement of victim’s rights,” and Victim Protection, Support and Assistance, StopVAW.)