Events across Europe – European Day for Victims of Crime (22 February)
Martin Luther King’s words, “The tragedy of the world is not the evil man’s brutality, but the silence of good people”, brought the idea of a European Day for Victims of Crime to Björn Lagerback, then President of Victim Support Sweden in 1988. The purpose of this day is to highlight the situation of victims of crime.
The idea was spread in 1989 by Sweden to the European Forum for Victim Services (Victim Support Europe) and the 22nd of February was chosen as a suitable day for manifestation that also includes candle lighting. Already in the following year the day was highlighted in England, France and Germany. Nowadays it is celebrated in several European countries. Countries in other continents, including South Africa and Japan, are inspired to follow the idea. Education initiatives, conferences, music events and fundraising in support of victims of crime are common events on European Day for Victims of Crime. It is also common that laws in favour of victims are announced or adopted in conjunction with the European Day for Victims of Crime.
In 2013, several events are hosted by VSE member organisations to mark the European Day for Victims of Crime:
- Weisser Ring Austria, together with the Federal Minister of the Interior (Mikl-Leitner), organises an event with experts on the topic “Elderly people as victims” in the Ministry of the Interior on the 22nd February 2013 in Vienna.
- Victim Support Estonia will hold a conference on the theme of school violence, on the 22nd February. “Bullying-Free School” will have several speakers working with victims of bullying, from social workers to police staff, and will be opened by Kalle Küttis, the vice-chancellor of the Ministry of Education and Science in Estonia.
- In Portugal, APAV will organise a debate on “Sexual Violence against Children”. The event will be held at APAV head-office, in Lisbon on the 22nd of February. The debate will count among its speakers the General Prosecutor, academics, police officers and health practitioners.
- In Sweden, the main event on the European Day for Victims of Crime is a yearly conference in Stockholm. The conference will be opened by the Minister of Justice of Sweden and the topic for 2013 is Internet as a scene of crime but also as a support option. Conferences, concerts and ceremonial candle lightning are examples of events which will take place around Sweden.
- In Scotland, the European Day for Victims of Crime is extended into the “European Victims Week”, whith several events organised by Victim Support Scotland across the region. These events include awareness-raising workshops and fundraising campaigns to flag the importance of protecting victims’ rights.
- Bily kruh bezpeci (White Safety Circle), in Czech Republic, is planning to arrange a press conference on the 22nd February during which a new project will be introduced: “Circle of help offered to particularly vulnerable victims“. During the conference, support will also be presented to the new act of law signed by the President of the Czech Republic on the 11th February 2013, and the statistics of 2012 dealing with the topic of victims of the crime will be presented. On the 21st February, Bily kruh bezpeci, together with Police, will arrange a workshop aimed to police psychologists to inform them on the new act of law regarding victims of crime.
- In Flanders, Belgium, Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijnswerk is hosting a conference on the theme of victims’ issues. They will launch a book on what children need as victims, and also a policy document on adult victim’s needs. The Minister of Justice will attend the event and the Minister of Welfare will deliver a video message. The list of speakers is varied; there will be a lawyer, a social worker from victim support, a speaker from a justice service for victims, and staff from the police service for victims.
- The Ministry of Justice in Hungary is organising a conference on the 22nd of February with the title: “From Victims to Offenders?” The event will be opened by the Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics and will count with the presence of NGOs, companies and professional organisations. The main focus of the conference will be child victims who might later become potential crime offenders due to the trauma they suffered. One of the aims of this conference is the analysis of further steps considered necessary for the protection of child victims.
- Every year, in Russia, NGO Soprotivlenye organises a special Victim Protection Week to celebrate the European Victim Day. This year the Victim Protection Week will start on the 18th February with an Expert Victim Protection Roundtable and a nation-wide press conference. A special victim support hotline will be set up, which will be operated by employees from the Ministry of Interior Affairs, the Investigative Committee, the General Procuracy and other law-enforcement agencies.
- In Poland, meetings, lectures, conferences on laws and help for victims of crime will be held countrywide as part of the Week for Victims of Crime. These meetings will be directed to a wide group of recipients: primary school pupils, students, parents, pedagogues and representatives of the institutions helping victims of crime. Their goal is to sensitize the society to the needs of victims of crime and engage various groups in supporting victims of crime as well as to guarantee complex help.
- In France, INAVEM together with the Paris Victim Support organisation PAV is participating in a gathering of Victim Support organisations and public services inititated by the national association for the recognition of victims. Furthermore many events organised by INAVEM member organisations are taking place on the whole French territory.
- In Croatia, Bijeli Krug is organising a round table with participants from all major institutions working with victims. The top themes are bullying and the protection of children as victims of abuse over internet.