Latest EU developments on domestic violence protection orders, and criminal justice (victims' rights)

Protection orders to be recognised

On 15 September, the Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke QC, confirmed that the UK has opted in to a Commission proposal which will ensure the equal protection of victims of domestic violence or harassment across the EU. The proposed regulation is part of an EU legislative package on strengthening the rights of victims. It allows for the automatic recognition of civil protection orders granted by a member state in another member state, crucially even if the enforcing member state’s legal system does not normally permit such an order. The regulation includes fundamental rights safeguards to ensure the proper implementation of the protection order in the enforcing member state. It does not address the sanctions for any breach of a protection order, which will remain under the jurisdiction of the member states.

UK opts in to victims’ rights

Justice Minister Nick Herbert has announced that the UK is to opt in to a Commission proposal that will ensure a minimum level of protection to victims of crime across the EU. Mr Herbert commented: “The availability of support for victims in other European countries can vary hugely. This directive will help ensure that victims’ rights are clear and consistent, so they can be confident in reporting crime and helping bring offenders to justice, wherever in Europe they may be.” A draft text of the directive has been published by the Commission, which the Council is due to examine at a meeting on 27 October. The Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament will also consider the proposal in due course.

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