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Policy position

Recognising victims’ rights as human rights

Victims should be recognised in their own right under Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Human Rights Charter) does not specifically recognise victims in their own right while accused people enjoy specific rights  

The Victims of Crime Commissioner urges the Victorian government to recognise victims’ rights as human rights by amending the Human Rights Charter to include a right for a victim of a criminal offence to be: 

  • acknowledged as a participant (but not a party) with an interest in the proceedings 
  • treated with dignity and respect 
  • protected from unnecessary trauma, intimidation and distress when giving evidence and throughout criminal proceedings 
  • protected from unreasonable trial delay. 

The Human Rights Charter should also require Parliament to assess whether any new  laws are compatible with victims’ rights and entitlements as set out in the Victims’ Charter.  

Amending the Human Rights Charter would recognise that victims have their own rights and status that are relevant to the operation of criminal trials and hearings, irrespective of whether they affect the accused’s rights. 

The incorporation of victims’ rights into the Human Rights Charter would elevate victims’ status and improve consideration of their status and interests. Rather than destabilising concepts such as the right to a fair hearing, articulating victims’ entitlements as human rights would ensure a focus on victims’ rights in parallel to – not opposition with – rights of the accused.  

It would also provide increased recognition of the Victims’ Charter across public institutions and help guide decision making, training and development of policies and procedures. It would provide a strong framework for public authorities to make fairer decisions and balance competing interests.

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