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ΑρχικήEnglish EditionVictims of violent crimes: Are they compensated by the state?

Victims of violent crimes: Are they compensated by the state?


By Katerina Papadea,

Greek legislation was adopted on April 29, 2004, to Directive 2004/80/EC of the Council of European Union with law 3811/2009 “Compensation to victims of violent crimes and other provisions”. The specific law, which provides that the victims of crimes of intentional violence (I want the result and, therefore, seek it), is entitled to seek compensation, after applying to the Ministry of Justice and paying the fee of €50, and ministerial decision 27787/2010 established the Hellenic Compensation Authority. The Hellenic Compensation Authority undertakes to decide on the request for compensation of victims of violent crimes committed in Greece and this compensation covers the costs of hospitalization, loss of income for a reasonable period, and the funeral expenses.

Firstly, it is necessary to clarify the meaning of the crime of violence. Violence is defined as “the act committed with the use of force (e.g., with a punch) or with the threat of violence, resulting in the victim being seriously injured or even killed”. The concept of violence, also, includes the use of any hypnotic or narcotic substances that makes you unconscious or unable to resist. In more detail, laws and regulations of its legal order must provide the victims of such crimes with a high level of legal protection and improved protection of their legal interests.

The Directive 2004/08/EC further clarified the above position, making it imperative to establish the compensation mechanism in all member states, as victims of crime cannot often receive compensation from the perpetrator of the crime. This is likely to happen, either because the perpetrator does not have the necessary resources to comply with the compensation decision, or because their identity cannot be established or prosecuted. It is worth mentioning that in our country, the incorporation of the Directive in the national legal order took place only in 2009, with a 5-year delay, a fact that implied the imposition of sanctions against Greece, with an obligation to pay €3 million to the European Commission.

Yvelinne Matos hugs victims advocate Geraldine Urena after the ceremony for National Crime Victims Rights Week in Providence. Mato’s son, Otswald, 22, was killed on April 2020. Credits to: Amanda Milkovits. Image source: bostonglobe.com

Now, Article 3 of law 3811/2009 defines the more specific conditions for the granting of reasonable and appropriate and not full compensation to the victims of crimes of intentional violence, which have been committed in the home country. The fact that the compensation is reasonable and incomplete means that the compensation covers property damage (e.g., medical expenses, mental support, loss of income, expenses to move the victim home, if necessary, purchase expenses necessary consumer goods, etc.). Article 3 (1) stipulates that victims of intentional violence committed at home, who have their domicile or habitual residence in Greece or in the territory of another EU member state, are entitled to their request, reasonable or appropriate compensation from the Greek state. To these crimes, crimes of sexual abuse, exploitation of children and child pornography, and victims of domestic violence have been added, because they are entitled to the above compensation.

The deadline for submitting the application is one year, and that one year includes the birth of the claim. The birth of the claim means the possibility to go to court and claim that one has been raped, for instance. Following the claim and filing of the application, the next step is to file a civil lawsuit against the victim, where the person injured by the perpetrator participates in the criminal proceedings, to seek redress for the damage caused by the crime. With the lawsuit, the victim can demand either monetary compensation, or restoration of the previous situation-in natural compensation, due to moral damage (an intangible, emotional, and internal form of damage, not valued directly in money) or mental pain (monetary satisfaction given to very relative to someone who died). Today, the victim can support the charge in the Criminal Court and receive appropriate compensation from the civil courts.

In summary, the “Achilles’ heel” of the compensation system is the non-publication of the acts of the Compensation Authority for Crime Victims, which makes it difficult to determine whether the law applies or not. Consequently, the possibility of compensating victims of violent crimes, if they are not compensated through civil action, or in another civil court, is unknown. In addition, it is necessary to inform the citizens about the existence of this right and how it is exercised, an action taken by the police authorities.


References
  • Ελληνική Αρχή Αποζημείωσης, ministryofjustice.gr, Available here
  • Ξέρατε ότι… το Δημόσιο αποζημιώνει τα θύματα εγκλημάτων βίας που τελέστηκαν στην Ελλάδα;, crimetimes.gr, Available here

TA ΤΕΛΕΥΤΑΙΑ ΑΡΘΡΑ

Katerina Papadea
She is an Undergraduate student in the department of International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus. She speaks English and German. She likes to deal with the news and to be informed in many ways in order to form her own point of view. News keeps you awake and does not let you focus on theory but practices every situation and every definition. She likes foreign languages, and she believes learning them broadens the way of thinking and helps us understand the world, through different political, economic and social conditions. Her favourite music is old Rocks from 80’s - 90’s.