Chapter 22 Special Topics
Section 7, International Issues in Victim Assistance
Victim issues transcend many borders, cultures, and legal systems. Not only
is the United States visited by millions of foreign nationals each year, but
citizens of the United States travel and live all over the world. Crime does
not limit itself to the borders of a particular country. This chapter addresses
a number of international crime victim issues that have become increasingly
important as our societies have become more global and mobile. Issues such as
tourist victimization, crime victim compensation, international terrorism, and
commercial exploitation of women and children are just a few of the complex
issues in international victim assistance. This chapter also discusses some
of the efforts that are being undertaken by the United Nations and other organizations
at the international level to address these issues.
Upon completion of this section, students will understand the following concepts:
- The background and history of the victims' movement at the international
- The content and significance of the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles
of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.
- The major international organizations working to address crime victims issues.
- Emerging issues in providing services to U.S. citizens victimized abroad.
- Types of international crime victims and victim advocacy response.
- New developments in meeting the needs of foreign citizens victimized in the
Crime afflicts urban populations in all parts of the world. The extent of
that crime was recently examined through the International Crime Victimization
Survey, which measured crime in more than fifty different countries. Bypassing
differences in legal codes and definitions of crime that have made comparing
crime data among countries difficult, the survey has produced the most comparable
cross-national data on crime available to date. Conducted in 1989, 1991, and
1996, the survey found the following:
- More than a third of all urban dwellers in the world do not feel safe in
their own neighborhoods at night.
- Crime rates are highest in major cities in Africa and Latin America.
- In every country surveyed, including the United States, no more than 10%
of victims received assistance from a specialized victim assistance agency.
(International Crime Victimization Survey 1997)
Because of differences in legal codes and definitions of crime among countries,
reliable data that are comparable across nations has been difficult to obtain.
The International Crime Victimization Survey is one positive step towards
compiling comprehensive, multinational data on crime victimization. More research
in this area is needed, however, particularly for crimes such as child abuse
and domestic violence which are largely unreported to police in most countries.
For example, at the World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation
of Children, a 1998-1999 study reported that:
- Recent studies indicate that of the estimated 9 million prostitutes working
in India, 30% are children, a large number of whom have been trafficked from
Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan (ECPAT n.d.).
- It is estimated that 30% of the commercial sex workers in Cambodia are less
than eighteen years of age, at least one-half of whom have been forced into
the trade (Ibid).
- A recent study in Greece identified 2,900 minors in prostitution--more than
200 were younger than twelve years old. Forty percent of the minors had been
brought from regional countries suffering from conflicts and lack of social
cohesion including Uzbekistan, Armenia, Albania, and Iraq (Ibid).
In recent years there has been increased attention in the United States on
the unique needs of American citizens victimized abroad as well as those of
foreign citizens victimized in the United States. There have also been considerable
efforts to address victimization issues at an international level through
standards--setting, training programs, conferences, and other initiatives.
Rights and services for crime victims vary considerably from one country to
another, and countries can learn a great deal from one another about ways
to address crime victims' needs.
This chapter is largely based on a report, New Directions from the Field:
Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century, and a background paper
written for that report by Dr. Marlene Young, Executive Director of the National
Organization for Victim Assistance (OVC 1998, Chap. 18). Some of the activities
that have been undertaken at the national and international level to address
the realm of international victim assistance are discussed in this chapter.
The Victims' Movement at the International Level
While the victims' movement at the international level is still relatively
new, the first work in the field of victimology was pioneered in the 1940s
by an Israeli researcher, Benjamin Mendelsohn, and a German researcher, Hans
von Hentig. Later, the work of English legal reformer Margery Fry resulted
in the passage of victim compensation legislation in New Zealand in 1963,
soon followed by Great Britain and several states in the United States. The
rape crisis movement emerged in the United States and other countries in the
International recognition of victimology as a distinct branch of criminology
came with the first International Symposium on Victimology, held in Jerusalem
in 1973, where a series of papers on victim compensation, crisis intervention,
and the concept of a victim ombudsman were presented. By the end of the 1970s,
those ideas were reflected in the establishment of victim service programs
such as rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and victim-witness
units in a number of countries including the United States, United Kingdom,
While the United States was just one of several nations interested in victims'
issues at that time, it was clearly one of the leaders in the emerging international
victims field. The publication of the 1982 Final Report of the President's
Task Force on Victims of Crime was a landmark document not only in the U.S.,
but internationally as well. A number of other countries created their own
task forces based on the American model, and discussions of victims' rights
and services gained visibility in international forums such as the United
United Nations Initiatives to Address Victimization
During the past two decades, the United Nations has undertaken a number of
initiatives to address the needs of crime victims at the international level.
One of the most significant is the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice
for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (Declaration), adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly in 1985 ( OVC 1998, Chap. 18). Considered
a "Magna Carta" for crime victims around the world, the Declaration
is based on the philosophy that victims should be treated with compassion
and respect for their dignity, and that they are entitled to access the mechanisms
of justice and to receive prompt redress for the harm they have suffered.
The Declaration purposefully speaks of basic principles of justice for crime
victims, which include access to justice and fair treatment, restitution,
compensation, and assistance. The last category includes material, medical,
psychological, and social assistance through comprehensive use of governmental,
voluntary, community-based, and indigenous groups. The Declaration also addresses
various principles of justice for victims of abuse of power. A copy of the
Declaration is included at the end of this chapter.
Governments and organizations around the world have responded to the challenge
of implementing the Declaration in different ways. Victim justice became a
much livelier publicissue in Brazil, Germany, India, the Philippines, Poland,
and Sweden, to cite six of many possible examples, following its adoption.
Victim assistance programs and services have developed around the globe in
such diverse nations as Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Nigeria.
Other countries, however, have only begun to establish mechanisms to respond
to victims' concerns.
Since the adoption of the Declaration, the U.N. has taken a number of steps
to foster its implementation worldwide. These efforts have largely been spearheaded
by the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which meets
once a year in Vienna, Austria. For example, in 1996, the United Nations Commission
on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice adopted a resolution calling for
the development of an international victim assistance training manual to help
countries worldwide develop programs for victims of crime. The U.S. government
and the government of the Netherlands took leadership roles in working with
scores of experts in victim issues from every region of the world to develop
two documents: a Handbook on Justice for Victims, designed to assist
practitioners in developing comprehensive victim services; and a Guide
for Policymakers, designed to educate policymakers about the Declaration
OTHER U.N. EFFORTS TO ADDRESS VICTIMS' ISSUES
- Fourth United Nations Conference on Women. In 1995, the Fourth United
Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, China, was a significant step forward
in the international arena for victims of domestic violence. The Conference's
final document, the Platform for Action, is a powerful and progressive
statement about the empowerment of women and the imperative to eliminate violence
against women in all forms. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's message was
heard around the globe when she said, "It is a violation of human rights
when individual women are raped in their communities and when thousands of women
are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human
rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages fourteen to
forty-four is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes. If there
is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights
are women's rights . . . and women's rights are human rights."
- Crime Prevention and Human Rights. The work of the United Nations
in preventing abuse of power and violations of human rights is long-standing,
and among the results have been the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Convention
on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights
of the Child, and the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women. The United Nations has also developed international guidelines
to reduce abuses against the elderly, the handicapped and the mentally ill,
and has drafted basic principles and guidelines on the reparation of victims
of gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
- Efforts to Establish an International Criminal Court. In recent years
the United Nations Security Council has worked to establish two ad hoc international
criminal tribunals for theformer Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The decades-long effort
to establish a permanent International Criminal Court is close to becoming a
reality through the action of the United Nations. The Preparatory Committee
on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court has given positive consideration
to provisions related to victims, in particular with regard to the proposed
creation of a Victim and Witnesses Unit.
Recent U.N. Initiatives to Address International Victimization
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a Declaration of Basic Principles
of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in November 1985. Since
then this landmark document has served as the basis for victim services reform
at national and local levels throughout the world. One of the projects that
has resulted from this declaration is the International Victimology Web Site
In June 1999, IVW was launched as a resource for all those interested in
improving justice for victims of crime and abuse of power. A two-year pilot
program, sponsored by the U.N. Center for International Crime Prevention,
the Research and Documentation Center of the Netherlands Ministry of Justice,
and the World Society of Victimology, IVW is a database of victimology research
in progress, a database for victim services and victimization prevention,
a resource for promising practices in victim services, a document and publications
hosting page, a link to other victimology resources on the Internet, and a
victimology news page and bulletin board. The IVW mission is to facilitate
the implementation of the U.N. Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice
for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power http://www.victimology.nl/.
In April 2000, the United Nations held the Tenth Congress on the Prevention
of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in Vienna, Austria. Member states
in attendance issued a declaration that contains two paragraphs related to
victims issues. In the first, member States state that they will "introduce,
where appropriate, national, regional, and international action plans in support
of victims of crime, such as mechanisms for mediation, and restorative justice"
and "establish 2002 as a target date for member States to review their
relevant practices, to develop further victim support services and awareness
campaigns on the rights of victims and to consider the establishment of funds
for victims, in addition to developing and implementing witness protection
policies." In the second, member States "encourage the development
of restorative justice policies, procedures and programmes that are respectful
of the rights, needs and interests of victims, offenders, communities and
all other parties" (Tenth United Nations Congress 10-17 April 2000).
Specific victim initiatives considered by member States at the Tenth Congress
include the following:
CREATION OF AN INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR THE SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TRANSNATIONAL CRIME
An expert working group met in January 1999 to consider the feasibility of
creating an international fund for victims of crime and abuse of power. The
working group recommended that such a fund be established to support the following:
- Technical assistance to develop and/or strengthen victim support services
- Awareness campaigns on victim rights and crime prevention.
- Eligible victim claims resulting from international and transnational crime,
where national avenues of recourse and/or redress are unavailable or insufficient
(Proposal for the Foundation 27-28 January 2000).
At the Congress, member States took note of the recommendations and tasked
the Secretary General of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention
and Criminal Justice with reviewing the recommendations and examining existing
mechanisms at the international level to provide assistance to victims of
crime and abuse of power. The Secretary General is to report his findings
to the Commission at its next meeting in 2001.
CREATION OF BASIC PRINCIPLES ON THE USE OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
Member States approved a resolution to consider the feasibility and desirability
of establishing guiding principles on the use of restorative justice practices.
The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice will
again consider this topic in 2002.
REVISED DRAFT PROTOCOL TO PREVENT, SUPPRESS, AND PUNISH TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN
An Ad Hoc Committee of the United Nations General Assembly established to
create a protocol that promotes and facilitates cooperation among member States
to prevent, investigate, and punish international trafficking in persons,
particularly women and children, came up with several recommendations. According
to the Ad Hoc Committee, member States should:
- Adopt measures to prevent trafficking and severely punish those who engage
- Ensure that victims of trafficking receive appropriate protection in accordance
with their best interests, and ensure their safe and voluntary return to their
countries of origin, of habitual residence, or to a third country.
- Educate the public about the causes and consequences of trafficking in persons.
- Provide victims with the appropriate legal, medical, psychological, and financial
assistance whenever it is deemed necessary.
- Prevent any type of penalty from being imposed on victims of trafficking.
- Abolish those practices that allow a husband, family, or clan to order the
transfer of a woman to another person for payment or other benefit to an international
crime organization (Ad Hoc Committee 6-17 December 1999).
World Society for Victimology
Another international organization that specifically addresses victims' issues
is the World Society for Victimology, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization
(NGO) with members from around the world brought together by their mutual
concern for victims. Members include victim assistance practitioners, scientists,
social workers, physicians, lawyers, university professors, and students.
The purposes of the World Society for Victimology are to promote research
on victims and victim assistance; to advocate their interests throughout the
world; to encourage interdisciplinary and comparative research in victimology;
and to advance the cooperation of international, regional, and local agencies,
groups, and individuals concerned with the problems of victims.
The origins of the World Society for Victimology are rooted in the works
of early victimologists and in the pioneering of the first International Symposium
on Victimology organized in Israel in 1973. This symposium provided the first
international forum for scholars, practitioners, and students to focus on
victimology. The World Society for Victimology sponsors various activities,
such as symposia, workshops, and study programs, and holds international symposia
on victimology every three years. To date, symposia have taken place in Tokyo,
Zagreb, Jerusalem, Rio de Janeiro, Adelaide, and Amsterdam. In the year 2000,
the symposium is scheduled to take place in Montreal, Canada.
Meeting the Needs of International Crime Victims
A number of international issues have become increasingly apparent to the
victim assistance field in recent years, including crimes against international
tourists, victim compensation, international terrorism and crisis response,
and crimes against children. The following are illustrative examples of such
- A Japanese student is murdered while on a U.S. college campus. The District
Attorney, cognizant of the need for fair treatment and access to justice for
the surviving family members, is faced with problems in providing information
and notification, opportunities for participation, and effective support for
grieving relatives an ocean away.
- A U.S. citizen is severely beaten and sexually assaulted while on vacation
in Amsterdam. Her home state does not provide victim compensation to citizens
who are outside state boundaries, and is not deemed to have a reciprocal compensation
agreement with the Netherlands, which, like many nations, requires such an agreement
to compensate a foreign national injured within its borders. She and her family
now face serious financial hardship as a result.
- A young German is robbed and severely beaten while on a business trip to
the United States. The accused is released and the case is eventually dismissed
because the prosecutor cannot afford to transport the victim two or three times
back to the United States.
- A U.S. citizen is killed in a terrorist attack in another country. There
is no provision for death notification or support to the family members by trained,
qualified service providers.
- An international couple with a two-year-old child separates. In violation
of the custody order, the mother kidnaps the child and returns to her country
of origin. The father, a U.S. citizen, expends hundreds of thousands of dollars
on legal fees, telephone calls, and private investigators in his attempt to
get the child back.
VICTIMIZATION OF TOURISTS
International tourist crime is a chronic and growing problem, increasingly
causing economic decline, deterring investment, and threatening quality of
life in countries all over the world. Tourists who become victims often face
unique issues such as isolation and culture shock, lack of familiar social
support, travel stress, and language barriers. In addition, most tourists
are not familiar with the laws of the country they are visiting, nor the criminal
justice, social services, health, and mental health systems with which they
must interact after victimization.
Throughout the world, tourist-dependent economies have implemented a variety
of promising, comprehensive programs to deal with the increasing number of
tourists who become victims of crime. Many of these programs assist both domestic
and international travelers. Programs to assist tourist victims have been
implemented in the United States in New York City; Orlando, Florida; and throughout
Hawaii. They are also available in Dublin, Ireland; Amsterdam, Netherlands;
Buenos Aires, Argentina; San Jose, Costa Rica; and throughout New Zealand
and Aruba. Specialized services provided by these programs generally include
replacement of personal identification, assistance with transportation and
lodging, emergency medical assistance, advocacy and support through embassies
and consulates, bereavement services, and communication assistance.
More communities with large numbers of tourists should consider establishing
special programs to assist international tourists who are victims of crime.
OVC awarded the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) a two-year
grant to develop a plan that would identify more effective services to foreign
travelers victimized in the U.S. and U.S. travelers victimized abroad. The
goals of this grant were to--
- Identify issues in tourist victimization.
- Identify promising practices in this area.
- Develop brochures for tourists leaving and coming to the U.S. summarizing
general information on forms of victimization that may affect them and general
- Develop a companion handbook for use by victim assistance programs to assist
them in working with tourist victims.
RESPONDING TO U.S. CITIZENS VICTIMIZED ABROAD
A coordinated, comprehensive plan of action is needed to respond to the needs
of U.S. citizens who are victimized abroad. American citizens
victimized abroad and their families often do not receive comprehensive victim
assistance services in the country where the crime occurs or when they return
home. This situation is complicated further when the crime involvesterrorism
or mass violence. International investigations become very complex, frequently
involving multiple agencies. Often victims do not know where to turn for information
or assistance. Victim advocates have suggested that the federal government
consider establishing a victim ombudsman at the State or Justice Department
to coordinate and streamline responses to Americans who are victimized abroad.
Such an ombudsman would have responsibility for contacting victims and providing
information and referrals to local services, updating victims on the status
of the investigations, and serving as a point of contact to guide victims
through the federal system. In response to this suggestion, and in response
to the multiple acts of terrorism involving U.S. citizens abroad, OVC has
funded positions at the U.S. Department of State to assist the victims of
the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in accessing services,
obtaining compensation, and getting information on the criminal trials.
CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION AROUND THE WORLD
In countries all over the world, victims of crime suffer physical injuries,
emotional pain, and financial losses. While many nations provide victim compensation
benefits, they often do not apply to foreign travelers. When they do, the
small percentage of victim tourists who learn that compensation benefits are
available are often discouraged by the legal intricacies of applying for compensation.
To inform travelers from all nations about benefits that exist in the country
they are visiting and how to apply for those benefits, the Office for Victims
of Crime, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, developed an International
Crime Victim Compensation Program Resource Directory in 1996. The State
Department sent surveys to U.S. embassies in 174 nations, and questionnaires
were then forwarded to the appropriate officials in each country. Of the ninety-one
countries that responded, thirty countries in addition to the United States
reported that they have established victim compensation programs. These programs
are listed in the directory. This directory is updated annually and contains
information from foreign countries and the U.S. on their programs, eligibility
requirements, application procedures, and compensable costs.
International reciprocity in the provision of victim compensation, restitution,
and other assistance in cases involving foreign nationals is very important.
As more and more people travel around the world, crimes against foreign citizens,
both in the United States and abroad, are likely to increase.
One recent development in crime victim compensation is the Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.
This new legislation amends the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to provide for
a new VOCA eligibility requirement that each state provide compensation for
any resident who is injured or killed in a terrorist attack in a foreign country.
States are not required to pay benefits when the crime is not a terrorist
act. Therefore, it is imperative that advocates inform victims that some foreign
countries have crime victim compensation programs, and that in some cases,
victims may be eligible to receive benefits from the country where the crime
occurred (OVC 1999b).
International Crime Victims and Response Issues
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND CRISIS RESPONSE
International crises such as terrorist attacks involve victims and survivors
from many different countries, and local caregivers are sometimes unable to
intervene usefully due to lack of education, resources, and language and cultural
barriers. Moreover, because of complicated international investigations which
frequently involve multiple jurisdictions and agencies, the rights, needs,
and services available to victims of terrorism may be overlooked.
Several organizations have provided assistance to victims of international
terrorism and their families. For example,
- The National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) worked in the 1980s
with family members of U.S. hostages taken in Iran and Lebanon by convening
support group meetings, developing a hostage family newsletter, and helping
them contact governmental agencies. In 1990, the organization developed Coping
with the Iraq/Kuwait Crisis: A Handbook for families and friends of Americans
detained in Iraq and Kuwait (Young and Stein 1990). In addition, NOVA
has coordinated crisis response teams in nearly a dozen countries including
Canada, Japan, Bosnia, and Croatia.
- NOVA has been actively involved in training initiatives on international
crisis response issues. Prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia,
the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) provided funds to NOVA for the training
of victim advocates and volunteers on national and international crisis intervention
and response, including instruction from experts on how to assist foreign nationals
victimized in the United States. After the bombing during the Olympics in Atlanta's
Centennial Park, these advocates were instrumental in ensuring that victims
received needed services.
- After the President signed the Antiterrorism Act in 1996, the OVC Director
met with more than a dozen victims who attended the signing. The surviving family
members whose loved ones had been killed abroad by terrorists in various countries
emphasized several concerns regarding the "system." They expressed
dissatisfaction in a number of areas including notification procedures about
the death of their loved ones; the red tape that exists when they try to find
out information about their cases; the lack of regular communications about
case status from responsible government officials; and the lack of coordination
between governmental agencies involved in these cases. They also expressed great
appreciation for the opportunity to meet one another and to discuss their cases
and their concerns. The group meeting helped diminish their sense of isolation
- Following the bombing of Khobar Towers in Dharain, Saudi Arabia, OVC used
its new authority under the Antiterrorism Act to ensure that the survivors of
the nineteen military service members killed in that attack were aware of compensation
and assistance benefits. In December 1997, OVC, in conjunction with the FBI,
the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Air Force, hosted a meeting
at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia, for the surviving family members of
the servicemen killed in the bombing of Khobar Towers. OVC established a 1-800
line for the families and the other victims in the U.S.Attorney's Office in
the District of Columbia to provide current information about the case investigation
and the status of the alleged terrorists (Ibid.).
- In the aftermath of the simultaneous bombings of two U.S. Embassies in East
Africa on August 7, 1998, OVC has worked with many different federal agencies
including the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services,
and Justice; Office of Personnel Management; Agency for International Development;
and Central Intelligence Agency to ensure that information, benefits, and services
are made available to the victims of those attacks. OVC has also funded positions
at the U.S. Department of State to assist these victims in accessing services,
obtaining compensation, and getting information on the criminal trial. In May
1999, OVC, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Attorney's
Office for the Southern District of New York, hosted a meeting for the victims
and surviving family members to provide information about benefits and the current
status of the criminal case (Ibid.).
- Recent international terrorist attacks against the U.S. have brought to light
many of the unique and complex problems in coordinating an appropriate short-
and long-term response to victims of terrorism abroad, and the need to develop
a federal protocol for responding to future international terrorist incidents.
Terrorism crimes tend to involve large numbers of victims and may include employees
of various federal agencies as well as tourists, business representatives, and
foreign nationals. Obtaining critical information about victims and providing
emergency relief and ongoing services may be complicated and difficult. Access
to compensation, benefits, and services can depend on which agency the victim
works for and their status as a state resident. OVC has taken a leadership role
in coordinating the development of a high-level working group to develop a federal
protocol to ensure a more seamless response to victims of such incidents in
the future (Ibid).
Assistance to families of Pan Am 103 victims. The bombing of
Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, over Lockerbie, Scotland, took the
lives of 270 individuals from twenty-one countries, including 189 Americans.
It was the worst terrorist atrocity in aviation history. Reserve funds from
the Crime Victims Fund, available through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)
set aside for victims of terrorism and mass violence have been drawn upon
to assist families of Pan Am 103 victims. The U.S. Department of Justice,
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), in partnership with the Scottish government,
is working to ensure that Pan Am 103 victims' families receive information
and assistance throughout the trial process. A comprehensive database at OVC
contains updated information on more than 600 family members, and OVC has
a full-time coordinator for the Pan Am 103 project. In coordination with the
Scottish prosecutors, police, and the Scottish Court Service, OVC is providing
the following services to families:
- An international toll-free telephone line into OVC for victim families, operational
June 14, 1999, and accessible from the sixteen countries where the families
are located. Scottish prosecutors, police, and court service personnel provide
regular updates for the information line.
- A secure, informational Web site for victim families (contracted through
the Syracuse University Law School) that provides updated information about
the case, an "electronicscrapbook" of archival information on the
bombing and the victims, information about victim services, and a discussion
forum for families to communicate with each other. Acting as agent for OVC,
the Syracuse participants will summarize daily transcripts of the trial.
- Trial updates using traditional mail for members without Internet access.
- Funding for staff to coordinate victim services throughout the trial:
- A victim-witness coordinator in the Netherlands to provide assistance
in locating lodging, arranging local transportation, and assisting with
- An on-site officer for the Scottish Court Service at Kamp van Zeist, who
serves as a family liaison officer with the Court.
- A Scottish prosecutor who serves as legal liaison with the families to
explain Scottish law and procedure.
- Funding assistance to the Scottish court to create a separate, secure waiting
area for the families at the trial.
- Funding assistance and coordination of case briefing meetings for victim
families by the Lord Advocate (equivalent to the U.S. Attorney General) and
his team, held in August and September 1999, in Washington DC; Dumfries, Scotland;
and London, England.
- The coordination of four remote sites for closed circuit viewing by victim
families (immediate relatives only) of trial proceedings in the United States
and the United Kingdom that will be secured by U.S. Marshals and managed by
Scottish Court personnel.
- Funding and coordination of travel and lodging for two family members from
each victim family for one week to attend the trial in the Netherlands or in
one of the remote court sites.
- Funding for uncompensated mental health counseling for immediate family members
throughout the trial process.
- Development and printing of a Lockerbie Trial Handbook, co-funded by OVC
and the University of Glasgow Law School, that provides information on Scottish
law and legal procedure. In addition, OVC developed a briefing book for the
families that provides information about the trial site, the remote sites, and
TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND MIGRANTS
The issue of international trafficking is gaining prominence in national and
international discussions of crime. People are trafficked to the United States
for many exploitative purposes, including sexual exploitation and slave labor.
The victimization that flows from such trafficking is significant, yet for
many reasons, these victims are largely without services. The crime of trafficking
encompasses a range of conduct, and its victims include not only the women,
men, and children trafficked but also in many cases, their families at home.
Many trafficking victims are forced by their traffickers to break the law,
and as a result, they are frequently treated as criminals themselves and may
be imprisoned or deported without ever receiving services. Any effective plan
for addressing the needs of trafficking victims must thusaddress a complex
range of issues, including citizenship and residency, cultural and language
needs, and age-specific needs.
The federal government has undertaken a number of initiatives to examine
ways to address these complex issues:
- In fiscal year 1997, OVC funded the Filipino American Service Group, Inc.
(FASGI) to provide direct services to Asian women and children trafficked and
held as garment or sex industry workers. FASGI worked to assist trafficked women
in re-establishing healthy and normal lives; ensure their availability for service
as effective material witnesses while reducing the costs to taxpayers, and provide
a model that can be used in other regions of the country. The project developed
guidelines for use by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
and the U.S. courts in releasing trafficked women to community care and developed
a preliminary curriculum for a continuum of care for "Southeast Asia Women
in Transition" (OVC 1999a).
- In June 1998, OVC convened a focus group on assistance and outreach to victims
of international trafficking. The purpose of the focus group was to gather views
about how best to meet the needs of victims of international trafficking, including
those who have been trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, slave labor,
and other unlawful purposes. The meeting was attended by victim service providers,
immigrant rights advocates, and others who come directly in contact with trafficked
victims. Representatives from various U.S. Department of Justice components
including INS and the FBI attended the meeting as well as representatives from
the State Department and the Department of Labor. Recommendations will be used
by OVC for future program planning (Ibid.).
- OVC is currently working with the Department of Justice Worker Exploitation
Task Force, various service providers throughout the country, and numerous nongovernmental
organizations to develop a training video for federal law enforcement personnel
on the issues facing victims of trafficking. This video is expected to be completed
in August 1999 (Ibid.).
COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN
Each year, an estimated one million children enter the multibillion dollar
illegal sex market (World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation
1996). Children are coerced, kidnaped, sold, deceived, or otherwise trafficked
into forced sexual encounters. The phenomenon of "sex tourism,"
which mainly involves men traveling to other countries to engage in sex with
children, is well documented. The exact nature of exploitation differs from
one country to another.
- In Asia, children are sold, knowingly or unknowingly, into the sex trade
by families or friends.
- In Africa, evidence suggests that the employment of children as domestic
help frequently includes sexual exploitation.
- In Europe, children are trafficked from poorer to more affluent countries
where the market for children is fueled by organized pedophile rings and high-tech
information services. These rings also exist in Australia, Canada, the United
Kingdom, and the United States.
The damage commercial sexual exploitation causes children is unfathomable.
Children are robbed of their natural sexual development, their sense of dignity,
identity, and self-esteem. Their physical and emotional health are put at
tremendous risk, their rights are violated, and their only support may come
from those who exploit them. To address these issues, Assistant Attorney General
Laurie Robinson led the U.S. delegation to the World Congress Against Commercial
Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1996. OVC provided
funds to the Education Development Center, Inc. to develop a report on strategies
to stop the sexual exploitation of children, Child Sexual Exploitation:
Improving Investigations and Protecting Victims--A Blueprint for Action
(EDC 1995), which was distributed at the conference. A videotape and user's
guide entitled Joining Forces Against Child Sexual Exploitation were
also developed to encourage replication of multijurisdictional team approaches
to handling these types of crimes. Since the World Congress, an interagency
working group comprised of representatives from the President's Interagency
Council on Women; the Departments of Defense, Education, Justice, Labor, and
State; U.S. Customs; and U.S. Postal Inspection Service have met periodically
to develop a coordinated federal agency strategy for prevention, investigation,
and intervention in cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION
Parental abduction cases often involve international marriages that dissolve,
with one parent returning to a native country with children who are too young
to give legal consent. It is estimated that each year in the United States
more than 350,000 children are abducted by a parent (Finkelhor, Hotaling,
and Sedlak 1990). Of those abductions, reports vary on the numbers of children
taken across international borders. One study found that children were known
or believed to have been taken to another country in more than one-fifth of
all child abductions. Earlier studies with smaller sample groups found that
up to 40 percent of abductions may cross international boundaries (Grief and
Hegar 1993). Only a small percentage of these cases are ever reported to the
State Department, however. The State Department's Office of Children's Issues
Statistics reported a total 1,057 international child custody cases in 1994
(U.S. Department of State 1994).
The costs of searching for children who have been abducted are staggering.
Many parents exhaust their life savings on telephone calls, attorneys, and
private investigators. A 1990 study found that in international cases, more
than half of the searching parents spent more than $10,000 and a few spent
more than $50,000 in their efforts to retrieve their children (Grief and Hegar,
1993). Accurate statistics on recovery rates are not available, according
to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but success or
failure often depends on whether the child was taken to one of the forty-five
countries that have signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction. The recovery rate for Hague Conventioncountries
varies by how well the courts of each country implement the treaty. Recovery
rates for non-Hague countries are very low.
Since 1985, the Justice and State Departments have worked together through
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to track kidnaped children
taken across international borders and to help their parents obtain lawful
custody under the Hague Convention's treaty on international child abductions.
As a part of this joint initiative, OVC will pay travel-related reunification
costs for American parents who can prove that substantial economic hardship
prevents them from recovering their children from overseas. In 1999, the International
Center for Missing and Exploited Children was created to specifically address
cases involving child abduction and exploitation that cross national borders.
BATTERED IMMIGRANT WOMEN
Until the passage of the Battered Immigrant Women provision of the Violence
Against Women Act, immigrant women who were dependent on their batterer for
their legal status could not escape their abusive situation without risking
deportation. The new provision allows immigrant victims the opportunity to
apply for legal status independent of their abusive spouse. While some immigrants
have already benefited from this new measure, still others who may be eligible
are not simply because they and the immigration officials handling their case
are unaware the law exists. As such, all immigration and asylum officers should
be fully trained concerning the existence of the new law, along with all policies
and procedures created to implement the law. The officers should also be trained
to identify immigrants who may be eligible and assist them with filing applications
to avail themselves of the new provision.
OVC has been working with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
to establish a victim-witness program to identify victims of crime and refer
them to services. Since its inception, INS has established sixty-eight Victim-Witness
Coordinators throughout the country to assist crime victims. OVC, in conjunction
with INS, has recently developed a training video, A Balance to Maintain,
for all INS employees on victims' issues. A national training program is under
IMMIGRANTS WHO HAVE BEEN VICTIMS OF TORTURE
In November 1998, OVC conducted a focus group with the Center for Victims
of Torture (CVT) to explore ways that OVC can work with CVT to educate victim
service providers about the unique needs of these vulnerable immigrant victims.
CVT has conducted several training workshops for federal law enforcement personnel
and is exploring avenues to train victim service providers around the country.
THE BATTERED IMMIGRANT WOMEN PROTECTION ACT OF 2000
The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 improves access for battered
immigrants to a variety of legal protections provided by VAWA, and sets out
procedures for spouses and children to self-petition under VAWA:
- It offers greater protection to spouses of citizens or residents who practice
bigamy by clearly defining their status and providing them with the right to
self-petition under VAWA provisions.
- It provides access to VAWA self-petitions to battered immigrants living abroad
who are abused by their permanent resident or citizen spouses or parents if
they are government employees or members of the U.S. uniformed services.
- It allows battered immigrants to file VAWA self-petitions within two years
of divorce or death of the abuser. If immigration status of the abuser is lost
due to incidents of domestic violence the battered immigrant may self-petition.
- It offers clarifications regarding the possibility of naturalization or citizenship
of battered immigrant women and protection from deportation when the battered
immigrant has left the home of the abuser after being subject to battery or
- It clarifies the use of VAWA funds to provide legal and social services to
battered immigrant women.
- It creates a nonimmigrant visa for immigrant crime victims who have suffered
substantial physical or emotional injury as a result of being subjected to crimes
such as rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, female genital
mutilation, or kidnap (NOW Legal Defense Fund October 2000).
International Cooperation and Information Sharing
As crime has become increasingly international, new methods of information
sharing and cooperation have become essential. Not only is it important for
countries to assist one another in developing strong justice systems that
can effectively address victims' needs, but it is often important for countries
to work together in investigating and prosecuting crimes and working with
victims. UNOJUST, the United Nations Online Crime and Justice Clearinghouse,
is a technical assistance program, designed by the National Institute of Justice
in the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of International Narcotics
and Law Enforcement in the Department of State, to help the United Nations
develop a technical capacity for global electronic information exchange on
criminal justice issues. UNOJUST provides an opportunity for criminal justice
practitioners around the globe to share and exchange information about issues
including victimization. These and other methods of information sharing
and cooperation will become increasingly important in the effort to address
victims' rights and services at the international level.
Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and
Abuse of Power
United Nations Department of Public Information
The Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse
of Power emanated from the deliberations of the Seventh United Nations Congress
on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Milan,
Italy, from 26 August to 6 September 1985. The General Assembly adopted the
Congress's recommended text later that year, on 29 November, when it adopted
resolution 40/34, reproduced below.
The Declaration recommends measures to be taken at the international
and regional levels to improve access to justice and fair treatment, restitution
of crime, and it outlines the main steps to be taken to prevent victimization
linked to abuses of power and to provide remedies for victims of such treatment.
Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse
A. VICTIMS OF CRIME
Access to justice and fair treatment
- "Victims" means persons who, individually or collectively,
have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering,
economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through
acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within
Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.
- A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless
of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted
and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and
the victim. The term "victim" also includes, where appropriate,
the immediate family or dependents of the direct victim and persons who
have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent
- The provisions contained herein shall be applicable to all, without distinction
of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, age, language, religion, nationality,
political or other opinion, cultural beliefs or practices, property, birth
or family status, ethnic or social origin, and disability.
- Victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity.
They are entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress,
as provided for by national legislation, for the harm that they have suffered.
- Judicial and administrative mechanisms should be established and strengthened
where necessary to enable victims to obtain redress through formal or informal
procedures that are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible. Victims
should be informed of their rights in seeking redress through such mechanisms.
- The responsiveness of judicial and administrative processes to the needs
of victims should be facilitated by:
(a) Informing victims of their role and the scope, timing and progress of
the proceedings and of the disposition of their cases, especially where serious
crimes are involved and where they have requested such information;
(b) Allowing the views and concerns of victims to be presented and considered
at appropriate stages of the proceedings where their personal interests are
affected, without prejudice to the accused and consistent with the relevant
national criminal justice system;
(c) Providing proper assistance to victims throughout the legal process;
(d) Taking measures to minimize inconvenience to victims, protect their privacy,
when necessary, and ensure their safety, as well as that of their families
and witnesses on their behalf, from intimidation and retaliation;
(e) Avoiding unnecessary delay in the disposition of cases and the execution
of orders or decrees granting awards to victims.
- Informal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes, including mediation,
arbitration and customary justice or indigenous practices, should be utilized
where appropriate to facilitate conciliation and redress for victims.
- Offenders or third parties responsible for their behaviour should, where
appropriate, make fair restitution to victims, their families or dependents.
Such restitution should include the return of property or payment for the
harm or loss suffered, reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of
the victimization, the provision of services and the restoration of rights.
- Governments should review their practices, regulations and laws to consider
restitution as an available sentencing option in criminal cases, in addition
to other criminal sanctions.
- In cases of substantial harm to the environment, restitution, if ordered,
should include, as far as possible, restoration of the environment, reconstruction
of the infrastructure, replacement of community facilities and reimbursement
of the expenses of relocation, whenever such harm results in the dislocation
of a community.
- Where public officials or other agents acting in an official or quasi-official
capacity have violated national criminal laws, the victims should receive
restitution from the State whose officials or agents were responsible for
the harm inflicted. In cases where the Government under whose authority
the victimizing act or omission occurred is no longer in existence, the
State or Government successor in title should provide restitution to the
- When compensation is not fully available from the offender or other
sources, States should endeavour to provide financial compensation to:
(a) Victims who have sustained significant bodily injury or impairment of
physical or mental health as a result of serious crimes;
(b) The family, in particular dependents of persons who have died or become
physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of such victimization.
- The establishment, strengthening and expansion of national funds for
compensation to victims should be encouraged. Where appropriate, other funds
may also be established for this purpose, including those cases where the
State of which the victim is a national is not in a position to compensate
the victim for the harm.
- Victims should receive the necessary material, medical, psychological
and social assistance through governmental, voluntary, community-based and
- Victims should be informed of the availability of health and social
services and other relevant assistance and be readily afforded access to
- Police, justice, health, social service and other personnel concerned
should receive training to sensitize them to the needs of victims, and guidelines
to ensure proper and prompt aid.
- In providing services and assistance to victims, attention should be
given to those who have special needs because of the nature of the harm
inflicted or because of factors such as those mentioned in paragraph 3 above.
B. VICTIMS OF ABUSE OF POWER
- "Victims" means persons who, individually or collectively,
have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering,
economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through
acts or omissions that do not yet constitute violations of national criminal
laws but of internationally recognized norms relating to human rights.
- States should consider incorporating into the national law norms proscribing
abuses of power and providing remedies to victims of such abuses. In particular,
such remedies should include restitution and/or compensation, and necessary
material, medical, psychological and social assistance and support.
- States should consider negotiating multilateral international treaties
relating to victims, as defined in paragraph 18.
- States should periodically review existing legislation and practices
to ensure their responsiveness to changing circumstances, should enact and
enforce, if necessary, legislation proscribing acts that constitute serious
abuses of political or economic power, as well as promoting policies and
mechanisms for the prevention of such acts, and should develop and make
readily available appropriate rights and remedies for victims of such acts.
International Issues in Victim Assistance Self-Examination
1. Why is it important to discuss international issues in victim assistance?
What relevance does it have to victim services in the United States?
2. Name two organizations working to address crime victims issues in the
international arena. What specific activities have these organizations undertaken?
3. What international document is considered the "Magna Carta"
for crime victims? Name four specific components of this document.
4. What issues need to be considered in developing services for international
5. Describe two other emerging issues in international victim assistance
and why they are important.
|Chapter 22 Special Topics