Labour MEPs urge UK to stand up to eurosceptics and defend British victims of crime - 2012-09-12
Labour Euro MPs will vote later today on a new law to protect victims of crimes committed in Europe in a key vote in the European Parliament.
The vote follows a long campaign by Labour MEPs who have been calling on the European Commission to strengthen the rights of victims of crime across the 27 Member States of the European Union.
The report includes victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, violence against women, terrorism, hate crimes and organised crime.
Claude Moraes MEP, who leads for Labour MEPs on Justice and Home Affairs said:-"This report guarantees a high level of protection and support to UK citizens who may find themselves victims of crime when travelling or working in another Member State in Europe. Victims of crime have been absent from legislation in the past with the focus leaning towards the rights of the suspects of a criminal offence."
"With this report victims will have the right to have access, through a dedicated office that will be created in each member state, compensation and practical resources like medical support, legal advice, interpretation and translation. The legislation ensures that all measures are taken to minimise the difficulties faced by UK citizens who become victims of crime," he continued.
The British Government is considering opting out of all EU policing and criminal law measures on 1 June 2014.
Claude Moraes added "If the Tories decide to opt out, British citizens would not have access to the crucial rights for victims of crime included in this report."
Arlene McCarthy, who is the Labour spokesperson on Legal Affairs, has called for EU action since the tragic murder of her Liverpool constituent Gary Dunne in Spain in 2006 left his family facing years of struggle to receive justice - justice which they are still fighting for.
Arlene said “Too often victims and their families are denied critical information and support. They are often too distressed to understand the complex procedures of another country's justice system.”
"We urgently need a fast and simple EU system which explains their rights, gives information in their own language and provides essential support to families and victims. This new law will help put this in place.”
Labour MEPs are also supporting campaigner Maggie Hughes who son was the subject of a vicious and debilitating attack in Green in 2008.
Arlene added "this law is a tribute to campaigners like Gary Dunne's parents and Maggie Hughes who have turned personal tragedy into a commitment that others won't face the challenges they did. I and my colleagues in the European Parliament will now ensure this new law lives up to the campaigners' calls."
The UK has until 1 June 2014 to decide whether to exercise its opt out from all EU policing and criminal law measures adopted prior to the Lisbon Treaty.
Arlene said: "This law provides vital protection for British victims of crime across Europe. It would be travesty if this Government for anti-European ideological reasons pulled out of this law. We need to continue to stand up and support our victims of crime."
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