European Day for Victims of Crime: LGL expresses its solidarity to the victims

Yesterday, 22nd February 2015, European Day for Victims of Crime was celebrated.

The National LGBT* Organization LGL wants to express its solidarity to all the many millions of people –children, women, men, poor, wealthy, residents and visitors to the EU- that every year suffer and have suffered  at the hands of criminals. The European Day for Victims of Crime represents an opportunity to recognize the plight of victims and to give a voice to their plight.

Across Europe and the world, reports of crimes against victims – whether they relate to terrorism, abuse, domestic violence, hate crime, human trafficking, robbery or any other crime, are a stark reminder of how unpredictable crime can be.

Nowadays, many are the countries in which victim support services are able to respond immediately to help victims. Such a timely response is essential. Yet it is necessary to recognize that victim support is not always available in every country in Europe, nor around the world. Not every Member State has well established, well-funded, national victim support organizations which provide victims with the support they need. Nor is every victim entitled to access victim support services even when they are available. Unfortunately, there is often still a large gap between victims’ rights on paper and their rights in practice.

It is then necessary that law enforcement and justice systems work tirelessly, not only to find, prosecute and punish the criminals, but also to safeguard each and every individual victim involved in that process. The system should not cause more harm or suffering to victims and it should not impose unnecessary burdens and costs. Every national system must treat each victim as an individual. The needs of one group of victims are not the same as for another. The needs of one person are not the same as for another. Nor can the response be identical for each person. The reasons for the crime will vary, the social, cultural and personal background of individuals will change the impact of the crime, the dangers the victim may face, the likelihood they are re-victimized and the help that victim will need.

Consequently, an effective and humane response to victimization must take all this into account. It must co-ordinate the action of justice and law enforcement agencies, of educational establishments and health services, of social care systems and local authorities, to ensure that the response to victimization is a social response, just as crime is an attack on society as a whole as well as on the individual.

In this context, LGL takes the opportunity to stress one more time its commitment to the fight against hate crimes. LGL also takes the chance to remind others that hate crime based on gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ethnic origin, social status, religion, beliefs or opinions, are punishable under the criminal law.

Though awareness and advocacy campaigns contributed significantly to the prevention of hate crimes, there is still much work to be done at international but also at national level. As far as Lithuania is concerned, this issue was once again confirmed by a recent case that significantly captured media attention in the current month. The fact involved a same-sex kiss picture posted on Facebook by two students. The picture was object of violent hateful comments on the internet.

In light of this massive online attack against LGBT* people, an initial complaint was filed by the national LGBT* rights organization LGL to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania informing them that the upload of the aforementioned photo was followed by public comments that incited hatred, mockery, humiliation, discrimination, as well as the use of physical force against persons based on sexual orientation. Though the comments violated the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania and the Law on Provision of Information to the Public of the Republic of Lithuania, the District Court’s of Klaipėda City dismissed the case.

Please see here for further details.