Crime victims complain that law meant to protect them not implemented

Victims' families not given an opportunity to meet with the appeal prosecutors before the hearing.

abuse victim 88 (photo credit: )
abuse victim 88
(photo credit: )
Organizations representing victims of violent and sexual crimes have charged that the police and the state prosecution have not fully implemented the Rights of Crime Victims Law, even though it was passed in 2001 and went into full effect in 2005. The Knesset Law Committee on Thursday held its annual meeting to review the progress made over the previous year in carrying out the law's provisions. "Nothing has changed," said Lara Zinman, head of the Murder Victims Organization. "Things are no different than they were last year. The contact between the bereaved families and the police investigators is still traumatic." Zinman complained that the lack of a unit in the State Attorney's Office designed to help the families of murder victims has caused difficulty because families did not know when the Supreme Court would hear appeals by those convicted of the killings. Furthermore, victims' families were not given an opportunity to meet with the appeal prosecutors before the hearing. Rachel Helman, the legal adviser of the Association for Rape Crisis Centers in Israel charged that according to the law, crime victims were entitled to receive information on three matters: rights of crime victims in the criminal procedure; consultation and help services available to crime victims; and guidance on ways to protect themselves against their assailants. This information was supposed to be available in established locations including police stations, the Police Investigative Department, criminal courts, the state prosecution's secretariat for criminal files, hospital emergency wards, etc. Helman said that some of these locations did not keep such information available. Speaking for the Council for the Child, Ofra Ben-Meir said that crime victims' situation had substantially improved in the years since the law was first passed. Nevertheless, she added, the problems that some families encountered were not "exceptions" to the rule, as government officials had maintained during the meeting on the law's implementation. Ben-Meir mentioned two families whose children had suffered from crimes who had not been informed that the files against the suspects in their cases had been closed three years earlier. In another case, a mother had called Ben-Meir frantically after hearing that the criminal who had sexually molested her child had been given prison leave. Government spokespeople, while acknowledging that there were still problems that needed to be ironed out, insisted that crime victims' situation had improved substantially over the past year. According to Attorney Daphna Bainwohl, who is in charge of implementing the legislation for the Justice Ministry, the Rights of Crime Victims Law applies to the victims of 14,000 to 18,000 crimes committed each year.