Panel urges emphasis on victims' rights

Experts have urged prosecutors to apply a "victim-centred" approach to their work

DUBAI // Experts have urged prosecutors to apply a "victim-centred" approach to their work.

The recommendations, put forth by a panel during a victims' rights seminar held by the Ministry of Justice for prosecutors and judicial officials, included creating specific teams to deal with sexual assault cases.

Jennifer Long, the director of Aequitas Resource, an organization that provides prosecutors with support in cases involving violence against women, highlighted the importance of consideration for the victim. Special teams provide "an increased quality of care for survivors and a reduction of the secondary trauma to them", she said.

The seminar was set up in association with the American Bar Association with a panel comprising Ms Long, Bennett Gershman of Pace Law School in New York and Marcel Vanpeet of the Netherlands Forensic Institute.

Prof Gershman spoke about the role of victims in the criminal justice process.

He said that while victims of crime are afforded broad legal rights, those rights are not self-executing.

"Enforcement of these rights requires at a minimum the involvement and cooperation of the prosecutor and the court," he said. "Presumably prosecutors and courts would strive to protect persons who have been victimized, and vindicate the law against those who injure victims."