(CN) - A set of victims' rights laws took effect in the European Union on Monday, which supporters say will improve how people are treated if they become victims of crimes.
Proposed by the European Commission in 2011 and passed by EU lawmakers the following year, the Victims' Rights Directive lays out a binding set of rights for victims of crime which as of Monday all member states must abide by.
The rights include a transfer of direct rights to family members of deceased crime victims; communication with victims in their language of choice; information about the case and services available to them throughout the criminal proceedings; general and specialized support services; participation in the perpetrator's criminal proceedings; and protection from the perpetrator throughout the proceedings.
Victims may now invoke any and all of the rights before national courts even where their member state has not fully implemented the directive. Where member states fail in their obligations to crime victims, the commission said it will take legal steps to enforce compliance.
"Every year across the EU, an estimated 1 in 7 people fall victim to crime," said justice commissioner Vera Jourova. "From today, new rules give victims clear rights to information, protection, and access to support services in all member states. The new rules will improve how people are treated when they suffer from crime. Victims deserve to be duly protected throughout criminal proceedings."
Jourova also noted that not all member states have notified the commission that they have implemented the law, and advised them to do so without delay.
The victims' rights law is another in a series of sweeping reforms in the EU's justice system.
Last week, the European Parliament's civil liberties committee backed a plan to make "innocent until proven guilty" the law of the EU at all stages of criminal proceedings.
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