The Governing Principles
Victims' Rights and the Governing Principles
The Victims of Crime Act 1994 (section 4) establishes Governing Principles for the treatment of victims of crime in the ACT. These principles derive from the (non-binding) United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power 1985.
The governing principles do not constitute enforceable legal rights, however, they define how agencies involved in the administration of justice should, as far as practicable and appropriate, treat victims of crime.
The Governing Principles are:
- a victim should be dealt with at all times in a sympathetic, constructive and reassuring manner and with due regard to his or her personal situation, rights and dignity;
- a victim should be informed at reasonable intervals (generally not exceeding one month) of the progress of police investigations concerning the relevant offence, except where such disclosure might jeopardise the investigation, and, in that case, the victim should be informed accordingly;
- a victim should be informed of all the charges laid against the accused and of any modification of the charges;
- a victim should be informed of any decision concerning the accused to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser charge or a guilty plea in return for a recommendation of leniency in sentencing;
- a victim should be informed of any decision not to proceed with a charge against the accused;
- where any property of the victim is held by the Crown for the purposes of investigation or evidence - inconvenience to the victim should be minimised and the property returned promptly;
- a victim should be informed about the trial process and of the rights and responsibilities of witnesses;
- a victim should be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused and defence witnesses during the course of the trial;
- a victim’s residential address should be withheld unless court directs otherwise;
- a victim should be relieved from appearing at preliminary hearings or committal proceedings unless the court directs otherwise;
- a victim should be given an explanation of the outcome of criminal proceedings and of any sentence and its implications;
- a victim who is known to have expressed a concern about the need for protection from an offender should be informed of the offender’s impending release from custody.
If you feel that your rights as a victim of crime have not been respected by agencies involved in the administration of justice you can make a complaint to that agency. You can also raise your concerns with the Victims of Crime Commissioner.
The Human Rights Act 2004 also applies to victims of crime.