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Report on Victims Rights Welcomed

Report on Victims Rights Welcomed by Justice Reform Group

The recommendations of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee Report on Victims Rights, could set the stage for a judicial system which recognises the rights of victims, through the judicial process, and fairly compensates victims for harm caused.

Kim Workman, Project Leader for the Rethinking Crime and Punishment Project, commended the Green Party, for calling for this inquiry. It is now up to the government to take up the recommendations, and start a policy and legislative process which makes the recommendations operable.

The establishment of a single agency to oversee all matters relating to victims issues, is well overdue, and should lead to an extension of the excellent work already carried out by Victim Support, Rape Crisis, and the Womens Refuge Movement. These groups have been primarily concerned with meeting victims needs. It will be essential that any further work by government also considers victims needs as well as their rights. They are not always the same thing.

The punitive focus of the criminal justice system means that it is fundamentally designed to respond to offenders. The ideal situation is to design a justice system that identifies victims needs as the starting point of justice - and particularly what the victim needs from the community, the offender and the system. At present, processing the offender takes precedence over the needs of victim recovery and reconstruction. Assisting victims in the identification of their needs is an essential beginning step in their journey toward healing.

ENDS

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