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Ó Snodaigh welcomes Victims Rights Bill 2008

24 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the introduction of the Victims' Rights Bill 2008 in the Dáil this evening. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the first priority must be crime prevention and community safety in all its aspects.

He said, "On behalf of Sinn Féin I welcome this Bill. The Government should allow it to proceed to Committee Stage and there tease out whatever difficulties there may be with it.

"It is essential that we not only recognise but legislate for and implement the rights of the victims of crime. The first priority must be crime prevention and community safety in all its aspects. If we get that right far fewer people will become victims of crimes and far fewer will become criminals. That should not be forgotten. However, the reality is that we are surrounded by prevalent crime in our communities, especially violent crimes against people.

"The rights of victims of crime must be in line with the recommendations of the Bill of Rights Forum established under the Good Friday Agreement including:

'the right of everyone who is a victim of or witness to a crime or a human rights violation to support and assistance in the criminal and civil justice system to enable him or her to give the best possible evidence, free from intimidation and harassment and from fear of victimisation;

'in particular, the right of a victim of sexual crime, child abuse and/or domestic violence to be treated with respect and sensitivity by appropriately trained justice officials; and

'the right of a victim to make a statement orally or in writing in open court indicating the impact of the crime on himself or herself and to close relatives and associates following any conviction in a trial for a serious offence and prior to sentence being delivered.'

"In all of this it is vitally important to protect the rights of accused persons who are innocent until proven guilty." ENDS

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