On 8th April 2015, the Victim and Witness Protection and Assistance Law became effective.
The Law defines rules, conditions and scope of protection and assistance offered to the victim and witness and their relatives,who participate in the criminal andfiscal proceedings, when their life or health might be at risk.
Protection and assistance measures include:
- Protection during proceedingwhich can be provided in case of riskto your life or health.Such protection may include anassistance of an accompanying police officerduring a part of the proceeding you are involved in, and on your way to and from the venue of the proceeding.
- Personal protection,provided in case of high risk to your life or health in relation to criminal or fiscal proceedings, if there is such a need for long-term protection;these include criminal proceedings under Article 197 § 1 and 2 (rape) and Article 207 of the Penal Code Law of 6th June 1997(maltreatment), and in specific justified instances also other proceedings.
Personal protection may involve;
- Permanent or temporary assistance of accompanying policeofficer
- Temporary surveillance covering you and the surrounding
- Indicating safe places of stay, as well as safe time and manner of transportation
- Defining scope, conditions and manner in which you may contact other people.
- Change of the place of your stay, can be applied in case of high risk to your life or health in relation to the criminal or fiscal proceedings, if it is necessary to apply long-term protection and other protection and assistance measures might be insufficient during first instance proceedings within the jurisdiction of a district court, and in specific justified instances of other proceedings.
Assistance in changing your place of stay will involve some organizational effort to enable your stay in another location. This may include provision of a temporary dwelling unit that will suit your basic needs or help to rent such a unit. The package may also include helping you move or settle and deal with all procedures related to the change of your stay.
If your place of stay has been changed and you do not have subsistence money or cannot start working since your life or health is at risk, you can be granted a financial support to meet your basic needs, cover the whole or a part of rent for your dwelling unit, as well as cover the cost of medical care if you are not covered by a mandatory health insurance.
You need to remember, however, that bills for the use of your dwelling unit, including electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste, as well as compensation due to wear and tear will be deducted from your financial support.
Protection and assistance measures will be adjusted according to the risk to your life or health and require your explicit consent.
While assessing the risk, the following is considered:
- personal characteristics and conditions,
- relationship to offender,
- type, manner and circumstances of crime,
- offender’s motives.
A decision about applying protection and assistance is made by the Regional/Chief PoliceCommander relevant for the domicile ofthe victim,witness or their relatives concerned.Those measures are applied after a request is filed with the Police running the investigation or the Public Prosecutor,the Police running a pre-trial proceeding or the Court. The institutions listed above may also request to apply one of the measures, however to do this they require your explicit consent.
Your request to apply protection or assistance should describe circumstances justifying the use of measures for each person concerned. After you fileyour request with the Regional/Central Police Commander,it is carefully examined regarding circumstances justifying the use of protection and assistance corresponding to risk involved. A decision is finally made by a relevant Police Commander within maximum 14 days, and you are notified immediately about the decision.
In case you are refused the above measures, you have 7 days to appeal the decision. However, if no other circumstances occurred in the meantime that justifythe use of protection and assistance, your appeal will not be processed.
Yet another form of support provided according tothe law is the psychological assistancethat you may use during the investigation, pre-trial proceedings or the court proceedings. Such support is provided by institutions which receive earmarked funding from the Victimsand Post-release Support Fund.
Before receiving protection or assistance, you are requested to provide a relevant Police Commander with a statement that you will follow rules and recommendations regarding protection and assistance and other obligations specified in the law.
In case you receive personal protection or help to change your place of stay, you are required to provide a relevant police department with information necessary to apply those measures, including information about contacts with family members and friends, your material status, and health.
You need to know that a relevant Police Commander may revoke protection and assistance when:
- a) your situation has changed and such measures are no longer needed,
- b) you refuse to testify during the proceedings,
- c) you are accused of providing false information during the proceedings,
- d) you intentionally provide misleading or hide important information regarding circumstances underlying decision to apply protection
- and assistance,
- e) you fail to follow rules and recommendations regarding measures applied,
- f) you misuse protection and assistance, and
- g) you resign yourself from protection and assistance.
When protection and assistance are revoked due to reasons stated above in b, c, or d,you are required to reimburse the financial assistance provided. The Police Commander defines amount to be reimbursed, date and institution relevant to collect it.
When protection and assistance are revoked, your relatives are no longer able to use such measures as well.
The law also introduces the European Protection Order. Thus, it is possible to transfer protection and assistance measures to another member state of the European Union.