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UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime

and Abuse of Power
Adopted by General Assembly resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985

A. Victims of crime
1. "Victims" means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm,
including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial
impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of
criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal
abuse of power.
2. A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the
perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the
familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The term "victim" also
includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and
persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent
3. The provisions contained herein shall be applicable to all, without distinction of any
kind, such as race, colour, sex, age, language, religion, nationality, political or other
opinion, cultural beliefs or practices, property, birth or family status, ethnic or social
origin, and disability.
Access to justice and fair treatment
4. Victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity. They are
entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress, as provided for by
national legislation, for the harm that they have suffered.
5. Judicial and administrative mechanisms should be established and strengthened where
necessary to enable victims to obtain redress through formal or informal procedures that
are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible. Victims should be informed of their
rights in seeking redress through such mechanisms.
6. The responsiveness of judicial and administrative processes to the needs of victims
should be facilitated by:
(a) Informing victims of their role and the scope, timing and progress of the
proceedings and of the disposition of their cases, especially where serious crimes
are involved and where they have requested such information;
(b) Allowing the views and concerns of victims to be presented and considered at
appropriate stages of the proceedings where their personal interests are affected,
without prejudice to the accused and consistent with the relevant national criminal
justice system;
(c) Providing proper assistance to victims throughout the legal process;

9. in addition to other criminal sanctions. as well as that of their families and witnesses on their behalf. restoration of the environment. including mediation. Compensation 12. Offenders or third parties responsible for their behaviour should. should be utilized where appropriate to facilitate conciliation and redress for victims. 11. Where public officials or other agents acting in an official or quasi-official capacity have violated national criminal laws.(d) Taking measures to minimize inconvenience to victims. reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of the victimization. Such restitution should include the return of property or payment for the harm or loss suffered. strengthening and expansion of national funds for compensation to victims should be encouraged. arbitration and customary justice or indigenous practices. protect their privacy. the provision of services and the restoration of rights. and ensure their safety. when necessary. their families or dependants. (b) The family. the victims should receive restitution from the State whose officials or agents were responsible for the harm inflicted. the State or Government successor in title should provide restitution to the victims. replacement of community facilities and reimbursement of the expenses of relocation. regulations and laws to consider restitution as an available sentencing option in criminal cases. in particular dependants of persons who have died or become physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of such victimization. Restitution 8. 10. In cases where the Government under whose authority the victimizing act or omission occurred is no longer in existence. should include. other funds may also be established for this purpose. make fair restitution to victims. from intimidation and retaliation. including in those cases where the State of which the victim is a national is not in a position to compensate the victim for the harm. Informal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes. Governments should review their practices. The establishment. When compensation is not fully available from the offender or other sources. Where appropriate. where appropriate. (e) Avoiding unnecessary delay in the disposition of cases and the execution of orders or decrees granting awards to victims. if ordered. 13. In cases of substantial harm to the environment. as far as possible. whenever such harm results in the dislocation of a community. 7. restitution. . reconstruction of the infrastructure. States should endeavour to provide financial compensation to: (a) Victims who have sustained significant bodily injury or impairment of physical or mental health as a result of serious crimes.

and should develop and make readily available appropriate rights and remedies for victims of such acts. States should consider negotiating multilateral international treaties relating to victims.Assistance 14. and necessary material. emotional suffering. individually or collectively. 21. as well as promoting policies and mechanisms for the prevention of such acts. States should periodically review existing legislation and practices to ensure their responsiveness to changing circumstances. CONTACT TOP HOME INSTRUMENTS DOCUMENTS INDEX SEARCH © Copyright 1997 . States should consider incorporating into the national law norms proscribing abuses of power and providing remedies to victims of such abuses. medical. In providing services and assistance to victims. B. as defined in paragraph 18. such remedies should include restitution and/or compensation. economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights. Police. 16. legislation proscribing acts that constitute serious abuses of political or economic power. and guidelines to ensure proper and prompt aid. 19. 17. should enact and enforce. 15.2002 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights . Victims should receive the necessary material. if necessary. community-based and indigenous means. In particular. Victims should be informed of the availability of health and social services and other relevant assistance and be readily afforded access to them. psychological and social assistance and support. medical. justice. through acts or omissions that do not yet constitute violations of national criminal laws but of internationally recognized norms relating to human rights. have suffered harm. including physical or mental injury. attention should be given to those who have special needs because of the nature of the harm inflicted or because of factors such as those mentioned in paragraph 3 above. health. Victims of abuse of power 18. voluntary. 20. psychological and social assistance through governmental. social service and other personnel concerned should receive training to sensitize them to the needs of victims. "Victims" means persons who.

The United Nations can take pride in its leading role in setting international standards concerning the treatment of victims. 2005) estimates that in many countries as many as 30 % of all women become victims of partner violence during their lifetime. 2005). Switzerland. According to global statistics presented at the UN Crime Congress in Bangkok. throughout the world suffer harm as a result of crime. terrorism and the criminal abuse of power. the Victim Declaration was complemented by the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Rights to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law (GA. More recently. The Netherlands. . an informal meeting with representatives from different regions to discuss the follow up to the Bangkok consensus on victim rights. the rights of victims are still not always adequately recognized and they may. including many women and children. one in three inhabitants of cities across the world are hit by crime every year. taking into account. inter alia. where needed. 2005) and by the Guidelines for Child Victims and Witnesses (ECOSOC. the world’s premier organization lobbying for victims rights internationally. suffer hardship when assisting the authorities in prosecuting the perpetrators. In 1985. in addition. A report of the WHO on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence ( WHO. and the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT) convened in December 2005 at Tilburg University. the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. The World Society of Victimology. In spite of these laudable efforts.INTERVICT Implementing the UN Victim Declaration of 1985 A joint project of INTERVICT and the World Society of Victimology Annually. Materials have been produced to assist countries in the use and application of the Declaration such as The Handbook on Justice for Victims (see International Victimology Website Nieuw venster).Geneva. the Member States in the Declaration of the UN Crime Congress in Bangkok have underlined the importance of giving special attention to the need to protect witnesses and victims of crime and terrorism and have reaffirmed their commitment to stenghtening. Implementation of UN Declaration . The 2005 Human Security Report documents the range and depth of victimization by terrorism and other forms of political violence (The Human Security Report 2005 Nieuw venster). hundreds of millions of people. the legal and financial framework for providing support to such victims. Fortunately. Many of these standards have found their way in both domestic legislation and in the new crime conventions of the UN such as the UNTOC and its protocol against trafficking in persons. the Declaration on Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.

based on equitable geographical representation . Develop a strategic plan to have a convention adopted and ratified. within available extrabudgetary resources.The following objectives were discussed: Discussion of the question whether a UN Convention would be the proper instrument to stimulate further implementation of and compliance with the basic principles contained in the Declaration. Abuse of Power and Terrorism. see paragraph 8 of the draft resolution: Requests the Secretary-General to convene. not excluding the use of existing resources from the regular budget of the Office. Member States may also wish to invite the expert group to consider the desirability and feasability of the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on Rights of Victims of Crime and of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and the elaboration of a UN Convention on the rights of such victims. including a preamble. which will contain both a summary of the discussions held during the Commission as well as the resolutions adopted by the Commission.2/Rev. The report. as well as in international legislation and practices of international courts and other international organizations. the WSV attended the Fifteenth Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and addressed the Commission with the following recommendations: that States make all possible efforts to incorporate and apply the said basic principles and guidelines concerning victims in their domestic legislation and practices. including those concerning acts of criminal terrorism. Resolution L. Prepare a cogent first draft of the convention Nieuw venster. a section on rights and a section on ways to encourage and/or enforce implementation. Most of the draft resolutions endorsed by the Crime Commission need to be adopted by the Economic and Social Council. provision of technical asssistance to developing countries to strengthen service delivery to victims in accordance with UN standards. Conclusions 15th Session Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: The Commission Secretariat Section of UNODC is currently finalizing the report of the 15th session of the Crime Commission. to request the Secretariat of the UN Crime Commission to convene an Expert Group meeting with equitable geographical representation to study ways and means to promote the use and application of the said basic principles and guidelines with particular attention for : updating of existing manuals and handbooks. Regarding the fourth objective. will be submitted to the Economic and Social Council at its July session. an intergovernmental expert group meeting. including with new materials on victims of terrorism and gross violations of human rights law .2 is the one related to victims. Propose terms of reference for a UN Secretary General’s Special Rapporteur on Victims of Crime.

as a representative of the World Society of Victimology. Poland. INTERVICT and World Society of Victimology. Iran. Lebanon. The idea of 'voluntary peer review' was accepted and included in the conclusions. The first days were spent on discussing the draft questionnaire (which can be seen on the internet: please click here. which aimed (a) to design an information gathering instrument on standards and norms related primarily to victim issues and (b) to study ways and means to promote their use and application. Experts at large were Cyril Laucci from Canada. There were delegates from governments such as Algeria. Then there were representatives of all of the Institutes of the UN Programme Network. The report can be downloaded here. Japan. to design an information-gathering instrument in relation to United Nations standards and norms related primarily to victim issues and to study ways and means to promote their use and application. managed to get three major ideas incorporated in the final conclusions: A reference to the Draft Convention that was designed by the Expert Group Meeting INTERVICT hosted and organised in December 2005. Canada. Marc Groenhuijsen attended the 16th Session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.and open to observers. Conclusions 16th Session Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. in Vienna. Vesna Nicolic from Serbia and Marc Groenhuijsen from the Netherlands. South Africa. The overall goals for WSV attendance were: Attaining higher priority for victims' issues in the UNODC (United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime) Explore interest of governments in supporting an initiative to develop and adopt a Victims' Rights Convention . From 23-27 April. The final day was about the 'means and ways' clause in the mandate of the IEGM. Argentina. April 2007. some 50 people participated. and to report on progress made in that connection to the Commission at its sixteenth session. Tunisia. Germany. Marocco. labeled as 'voluntary peer sharing'. Peru. USA and Venezuela. All in all. in cooperation with institutes of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme network. United Arab Emirates. Syria. Beaty Naude from South Africa. The end result of this discussion will soon appear on the website of UNODC. IEGM November 2006 From 27 to 29 November 2006 Marc Groenhuijsen attended the IEGM of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna. The report of the IEGM will be submitted to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at its sixteenth session. Governments are encouraged to seek assistance of NGO's in completing the questionnaire.

The developed victim questionnaire did receive support. addressed the plenary session of the Commission. including Marc. . Several members of the Executive Committee of the WSV. The Commission did not support the idea of a Victims' Rights Convention.Ensure follow through on the recommendations from the IEGM last November on the victim questionnaire and related practical steps to improve implementation of the UN Declaration (1985). item 'Report of the 16th Crime Commission'. See for more information the Draft Resolution on the UNODC website.