Enforceable rights for victims of crime in England and Wales
Wolhuter, Lorraine Winifred
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The thesis draws on the author's own contribution to a co-authored text Wolhuter, et al, 2009), which was aimed at introducing students to the legal landscape pertaining to victims' rights in England and Wales. All the arguments presented and issues addressed in this contribution constitute the author's own work, and were developed without any form of collaboration with the co-authors. While the thesis incorporates the basic issues that arose for consideration in the author's contribution to this text, it goes beyond this contribution to develop a systematic framework for the recognition of enforceable victims' rights flowing from the overarching rules of EU law. The thesis explores the extent to which the entrenchment in English law of enforceable rights for victims of crime in general, and socially unequal victims in particular, will reduce secondary victimisation at the hands of criminal justice agencies. The absence of such rights in English law constitutes a significant lacuna in the state’s responses to victims, particularly in light of the recent recognition of enforceable victims’ rights in EU law. The thesis accordingly seeks to contribute to the generation of a victims' rights discourse in the UK, with the aim of encouraging the introduction of enforceable rights for victims. To this end, it engages in a comparative analysis of victims' rights in EU law, European human rights law and American law. It contends that the United Kingdom ought to agree to be bound by the Draft Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (2011, the "Victims' Directive"), which will render the victims' rights enshrined therein directly enforceable in national courts. In addition, it considers each of the rights in the Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings (2001/220/JHA), and its prospective successor, the Victims' Directive, including the rights to information, respect and recognition, protection, participation and compensation, pointing to ways in which these rights may be given full effect in English law. In particular, the thesis advocates the recognition of active victim participation to empower victims in the pre-trial and trial processes. It maintains that the models of active victim participation in German and Swedish law, namely auxiliary prosecution and victims’ lawyers, reduce secondary victimisation, particularly for vulnerable victims of serious offences, and ought to be introduced in English law. The thesis also evaluates the position of socially unequal victims, namely women victims of gender-based violence, minority ethnic victims of racially and religiously motivated crime, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ("LGBT") victims of homophobic and transphobic crime, and victims of elder abuse. It locates these victims within the framework of international and European human rights law, and recommends reforms to English law that would facilitate and enhance their exercise of the victims' rights that it advocates. The thesis concludes by delineating the contours of a victims' rights' model, which encompasses the recognition of victims' rights as enforceable human rights, the correlation of these rights with the right to freedom from discrimination, and the introduction of active procedural rights in the pre-trial and trial processes.
- Doctor Legum - LLD