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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)



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CHARTER FOR WOMEN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND CRIME - Shri S. Banerjee I.P.S. (Retd.)

 
 


Introduction:
The Indian society is replete with example in which women and girls have fallen victim to violence and crime. These result from a variety of reasons but mostly revolve around social economic factors. This therefore results in great social inequalities and demands correction in its entirety. These social inequalities exist not only in India but are also found in various other countries. The United Nations therefore addressed these problems and on September 6, 1985 issued a declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Abuse and Power. The declaration has been hailed by the solialists as a “Magna Carta” for the victims. Violence against women received further international attention through the Vienna declaration adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 and the Beijing Platform of Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

While considering the issue it is important to define who is a victim. A victim is defined as a person who suffers physical or emotional harm or loss or damage to property as a direct result of criminal offence. This covers not only the person against whom the offence was committed but also anyone who has suffered directly from the commission of the offence. The definition of victim may include, for example, the parent of a child who has been sexually abused or the immediate family of a murder victim.

To this it is necessary to add the trauma of the victims of natural disasters like earthquake, floods, draughts etc. which cause untold misery to human beings. An offshoot of such natural calamities is the possibility of trafficking in women and girls by unscrupulous elements as the former are placed in unfortunate circumstances and easily fall prey to such people. With a view to preventing such occurrences the United Nations has kept a hawk eye on the women and children who have either been orphaned or placed in very difficult circumstances as a consequence of the Tsunami floods in South East Asia. Thus when we talk of victims we must keep in mind not only those who fail prey to criminal action but are also subjected to natural disasters.

In order to protect the rights of the women and girl victims of crime and violence, it would be necessary to draw up a Charter for the purpose.

The following is a draft Charter in this regard.

Preamble

Witnessing the passage of the 20th Century without any substantial justice done to women and child victims and survivors of grave crimes including sexual assault,

Witnessing also that violence against women, continues to be unabated in many parts of the country and the world today;

Noting that violence against women has received further international attention through the Vienna Declaration adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 and the Beijing Platform of Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995,

Cognizant that many women victims and survivors of grave crimes and abuse of power continue to suffer, both physically and psychologically, from these victimizations and from the failure to provide justice, including individual compensation and other forms of reparations,

Alarmed that even after half a century of the adoption of the Indian Constitution and even after two decades of the passing of the U.N. Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 29th November 1985, victims of crime do not receive adequate justice,

Mindful of the moral responsibility of every member of the civil society and also a common task for the women’s movement to prevent victimization and to vindicate justice for the civil society,

Determined to vindicate justice, human right and dignity to all victimized women and children to end the impunity for violence against women and thereby prevent repetition of such crimes,

Convinced that this effort will also contribute towards creating a new millennium mitigating the sufferings due to crime and violence, thereby adopts the charter for women victims.


Purpose of the Victim Charter

The victims charter shall explain the coordinated service that must be in place to meet the informational, emotional and practical needs of a victims of crime. It shall aim to ensure everything possible which could be done to meet the needs of the victims and others affected by the incident.

Right of Victims of Crime

1. The rights of victims of crime must be accorded adequate recognition and should be enforced effectively.

2. Victims of crime and where relevant their immediate family must not be discriminated against on the basis of age, gender, disability, culture, race, religion, caste, occupation and political affiliation.

3. Victims must have the right to:
• Respect and recognition at all stage of the criminal justice proceedings.
• Receive information and explanation about the progress of the case.
• They must have the right to be present and heard in the criminal justice proceedings whenever their personal interests are affected.
• Right on their physical and psychological safety.
• Right to protection from any intrusion into their privacy.
• Receive information regarding their rights and the services available.
• Have access to free victim support services.
• Right to compensation from the offender.
• Right to access to health care services.

Duty of the police when a crime is reported:

4. The police should respond to information / complaint of the victim with utmost expedition and must register the FIR immediately and give a copy thereof to the complainant as provided under the law.

5. In order to enable the victim to speak to the right person the police shall give the victim or her representative the crime reference number of her case and the contact details of the official concerned responsible for her case.

6. The victim shall be given a copy of a printed leaflet called the “Victims of Crime” as soon as the crime is reported to the police. This leaflet shall explain how the victim and the police can assist each other. It shall also explain the Victim Support / Assistance available and how the victim can apply for compensation for injury, loss or damage from a crime as well as for the rehabilitation of the victim.

7. The police shall keep the victim informed of important development of the case.

8. When the cases are remanded / adjourned, the victims shall be kept informed of the new date. When an accused is sentenced by the court the victim shall receive return notification of the outcome.

9. If the victim is required to give evidence in court she shall be advised of the date, time and location of the hearing. The victim shall be provided with a booklet explaining what can be expected to happen in court and also provided with helpful telephone numbers of people and organizations who can be of assistance to the victim.

10. Specialist / Expert help shall be available when the crime involves a death or if a child is the victim of a crime. These include the non-governmental organization engaged in specialists services, for example women, children, elderly destitutes / orphan victims.

11. In case of rape or other sexual offences including domestic violence against women, women police officers who have received special training should assist such victims.

12. In case where a child is a victim of a serious crime, a police officer who has received specialist training to handle children as well as Child care Officer from the Childrens Service shall be made available as envisaged under the Juvenile.
Apprehensions of the Victim about future Victimizations

13. The police shall ask the victim about her fears of further victimization and details of her loss, damages or injury. The police/magistrate may take this into consideration while making their decisions.

14. Where the Probation Service has responsibility for supervising offenders for license / payroll and who have received life imprisonment or have been sentenced for serious sexual or violet offences they will attempt to make contact with the victim to provide information about the custodial process and obtain any information about the concerns when the conditions of release are being considered.


Victims as Witness

15. Victims / witness shall be provided with separate waiting rooms at the Criminal / Magistrate’s Courts from those involved in the case to ensure their safety and to dispel their fear while tendering evidence.

16. On arrival of the victims/witnesses at the Court, the Court Officers shall answer any queries in a sensible and sensitive manner to enable the court to elicit the truth from them.


Child Witnesses

17. The trial involving child witnesses shall be arranged at the earliest possible date. It might be possible for a child to give evidence over a TV link or behind a screen whenever necessary.

18. The child will be allocated a Child Witness Support Worker who will assist throughout the case.

19. The child will wait in a separate area before giving evidence and she will be accompanied by the Child Witness Support Worker who will take her to the court.

20. The Children’s Service can provide child victim reports to the courts to advise them of the impact of serious crime on the child and her family. Child victims of sexual or physical abuse will be offered emotional support and ongoing therapeutic help if it is required from the Child Protection Team at the Children’s Service.


Emotional and practical Support for victims

21. NGOs/Womens’ Organisations engaged in victim assistance shall contract victims of crime within four working days of receiving details of the case from the police. Victims shall also have the option to contact them directly, if they require immediate support. The police may pas details to the agency which renders Victim Support within seven days of the matter being reported unless the victim has requested them not to.

22. Persons suffering personal injury as a result of a crime may apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme wherever such compensation scheme in available. A leaflet called “Victims of Crimes of Violence – Guide to Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme” shall be made available by the police, and other NGOs engaged in victim assistance services.

23. The court dealing with the crime may consider making a Compensation Order under the existing laws if the victim has suffered loss, damage or injury. The police shall assist the victim in this regard so that compensation can be received by her.

24. In cases of domestic violence the details of the victims shall be passed on to the Women’s Refuge, Women’s Group or NGOs who offer support and guidance which should be given confidentially and immediately.

25. If the victim has reported a rape “Rape Crisis Centre” or similar Specialist Centres will only be contacted with her express permission. “Rape Crisis” shall be available for contract throughout the 24 hours.
Health care for the victim

26. Medical attention, when required, shall be offered as soon as possible and medical information will be held in strict confidence by the hospital staff. Emotional and psychological support shall be offered following bereavement or other traumatic events.
Further Information

27. There shall be an informative booklet on, ‘Victims’ Charter” containing all the information which should be available with the police, courts and the NGOs engaged in victim assistance and support work.
Action required to be taken

In order to translate the Charter into action it is necessary to transfer it from the drawing board to the ground and make it work. For this it is necessary to have coordinated action at all levels in the criminal justice system, from the legislative to the administrative, the judiciary as well as jail administration.

The district being the fulcrum in the administrative structure in India, it is necessary to integrate the administration of the Charter with the working in the district administrative system. In this the police being the agency to which all complaints, information and FIRs are given, should be made the central point in the administration of the Charter. For doing this it is necessary to take the following actions:-
1) Training should be given at various levels, both at the induction and in-service stages, to the officials of the Criminal Justice System and all concerned should be sensitised in this work.

2) It is important to have people with proper attitude who would be dealing with such cases. This would include not only the trainers but also the personnel who deal with these cases.

3) There should be a sense of dedication in the personnel dealing with such matters.

4) It is important to involve sufficient number of women, particularly in the police department, to deal with these cases.

5) Monitoring is important in order to make the scheme a success. The District Collector being the head of the district administration should ensure along with the District S.P. during the coordination meetings, that all cases are registered and are investigated properly. While it would be the responsibility of the district police to take the necessary investigation action so far as the cases are concerned, coordination at the level of the District Collector would ensure that burking of cases are kept at the minimum.

6) Funding: It would be necessary to ensure a continuous source of funding, other than government funding, if the scheme is to be made a success. In this work it has been suggested that the insurance companies as well as the NGOs should help in the funding the schemes alongwith proportionate spending by the government.

7) The codes as they today are not justiciable. Even in the UK no one can be taken to task if the code is not followed. The courts may however only take cognizance of the failure to abide by the code while deciding the case. Therefore if we desire that these be enforced it would be necessary to draw up a proper legal framework so that the victims could be protected.

Shri S. Banerjee I.P.S. (Retd.)
Retd. Director General of Police
Anti Corruption Bureau
Gujarat State


The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

 
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