For information only - not an official document
22 November 2011
UNODC Puts Victims at the Heart of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism
NEW YORK/VIENNA, 22 November (UN Information Service) - Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), today launched the publication Criminal Justice Response to Support Victims of Acts of Terrorism at United Nations Headquarters. This is the first time that the experiences of a broad range of international criminal justice experts have been compiled in an effort to promote fairer and more sensitive handling of victims during criminal proceedings. "Victims matter. Their rights and needs, as well as those of their families, should be at the heart of any criminal justice response," said Mr. Fedotov.
Victims have long played a secondary, and mostly silent, role in criminal trials. The effective prosecution of perpetrators is a crucial factor in reducing the perception of victimization and of impunity for terrorist acts. So is granting victims equal and effective access to justice. The handbook can offer policymakers and criminal justice officials practical advice on the challenges encountered by their national and regional counterparts, and highlight good practices related to the establishment of support mechanisms for victims of terrorism. "I hope this marks a positive step forward in our joint efforts to create criminal justice systems that are more responsive to the needs of the innocent," said the Executive Director.
Five years ago, the world's Governments adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, a common platform to tackle the threat of terrorism, which emphasizes the human rights of victims. Bringing the issue of victims into national and international debates is a new development facilitated by the United Nations. Within the Global Strategy, UNODC has promoted the rule of law, boosted technical assistance to countries in law enforcement, and provided legal and legislative guidance.
According to the handbook: "Victims of terrorist crimes, as much as victims of crime in general, must be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity. They should be entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress, which should be provided in national legislation, for the harm that they have suffered." Recommended measures include judicial assistance, protection from intimidation and retaliation; material, medical, psychological and social assistance, and access to compensation.
Terrorism has taken a grim toll on those who work for peace, justice and development. "This handbook is dedicated to the twenty-four friends and colleagues who died in a car bomb explosion at the UN offices in Abuja, Nigeria; to those who died in terrorist attacks on United Nations' premises in recent years; and to the victims of terrorist acts everywhere," said Mr. Fedotov.
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