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New EU Victims’ Rights Directive: over 40 human rights groups warn of potential failure to protect migrant victims

Over 40 human rights organisations have released a joint statement calling on EU lawmakers to shield undocumented migrants from immigration enforcement when they report abuse to the police, as the EU is discussing new rules to protect victims of crime. Signatories include Amnesty International, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), La Strada International, and Victim Support Europe.

The EU Victims’ Rights Directive, which sets out minimum rights for victims of abuse across the EU, is currently being revised and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) committees of the European Parliament should vote on their position in April.

The revision proposed by the European Commission includes a prohibition for law enforcement to share personal data related to the victim’s migration status with immigration enforcement only while the first needs assessment is completed. This partial shield is not enough. Undocumented people must be able to trust that they will not face immigration consequences, including detention and deportation, throughout the reporting process.

We urge the European Parliament and the Council to take a clear stance for safety and protection for all victims, and ensure that no data transfer occurs between police and immigration enforcement as a result of undocumented victims reporting abuse.

Undocumented people too often fear approaching the police to report abuse because they might risk detention and deportation instead of getting support and protection. The revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive must address this and make sure that everyone can safely report abuse, whatever their migration status.

Michele LeVoy, Director of PICUM,

“EU lawmakers already failed to protect undocumented women from immigration enforcement should they report abuse to the police in the Directive on Violence Against Women. The revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive – which applies to women as well – must fill this gap and ensure that anyone who reports abuse gets the support they need and is not punished with detention and deportation for coming forward”.

In the revised EU Anti-Trafficking Directive, EU policy makers were only willing to include safe reporting mechanisms for children victims of trafficking, but not for adults. It is all the more important that this right to safe reporting will be strongly embedded in the new Victims’ Rights Directive. This will do justice to all victims of crime.

Suzanne Hoff, Director of La Strada International

The full statement and policy recommendations can be read here.