4 Assistance and Protection of victims of violence generated by organized crime KIDNAPPINGEXTORTIONHOMICIDETRAFFICKING IN PERSONS AND SEXUAL EXPLOTATIONFORCED RECRUITMENTRAPEORGAN TRAFFICKINGvictims of violence generated by organized crimeChildren, adolescents and women,shop-keepers, businessmen,jueces, autoridades locales,Law enforcement officers,journalist, migrants and their families
5 ContextThe status of public security is today the main threat to stability, strengthening of democracy and the possibilities of development of our region.The rapid expansion of transnational organized crime in the region generates non-traditional challenges to public security.The states have focused their efforts on creating strategies to combat criminal organizations, setting aside, or postponing, the important task to assist and protect victims of violence generated by the activities of these organizations. The victim has been forgotten in the creation process of policy interventions.
6 ContextStrengthening of a highly functional and organized criminal structure, at a social and territorial level, which has created a flow of drugs, arms smugglers and traffickers in the region.The lack of institutional and regulatory infrastructure and resources coupled with the limited capacity of the state to protect and assist the victims has created a situation of extreme vulnerability for these populations.The growth of transnational crime in the region takes a lot of victims daily and requires a comprehensive, coordinated and concerted answer, not only at the national but also at the regional and hemispheric levels.The mass victimization present in cases such as irregular migrants in Central America and Mexico, forced displacement, human trafficking and cross borders give also a transnational nature of the problem.
7 Areas of ActionThe legal dimension, in turn, means the dedication to the development of legislation, policies and programs at national and international level, to promote dialogue, inter-agency cooperation and to ensure access to justice, protection and assistance to victims, as well as to witnesses and their families. In this regard, efforts should be directed to:The development of legislation, regulations and integral public policies. A clear legal standard that incorporates the rights of victims and witnesses is the first step in providing assistance and protection. In many countries of the region, there are no laws dedicated to the protection of victims and if there exists, they are not regulated or focused on the protection of witnesses.It is important to continue working on the ratification of international treaties and on the adaptation of national laws and international commitments.Promoting restorative justice models. Restorative justice focuses on repairing or restoring the damage caused to the victims and relationships rather than on punishing offenders. This focus on the caring process for people affected by a crime has great potential for enhancing social cohesion in societies that are increasingly indifferent to the victims.Strengthening parliaments. Parliamentary control is essential to keep the law updated on assistance and protection of victims and witnesses, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of legal rules and the programs for implementation.
8 Areas of ActionII. The governmental dimension refers, in turn, to the strengthening and capacity building of national authorities and security police, judges and prosecutors, immigration, borders , as well as its implementation to ensure the full protection of the victims and recovery of the public confidence in authorities. In this sense, the actions should include:1. Development and Strengthening of Institutions and Specialized Skills in the Assistance and Protection of Victims, with special emphasis on those populations whose characteristics are highly vulnerable and require specialized care as in the case of children.• Training courses for the identification and prompt attention, dignity and respect for the victims and their families.• Development of mechanisms that contribute to fighting corruption and the empowerment of local and regional authorities.2. Development and Implementation of Data Collection Systems. A prerequisite for the development of policies and programs that respond adequately to the protection needs of victims is to establish the need for accurate, reliable and timely data on the incidence, characteristics and prevalence of victimization.3. Regional Cooperation Agreements and exchange of information. Some countries in the region have made significant progress in the development of legislation, victimization surveys, institutions and prosecutors specialized in the care and protection for victims, among others, that can be shared among Member States either through a specialized network of cooperation or bilateral agreements, or regions to share knowledge and technology.
9 Areas of ActionIII. The socio-cultural dimension is referred to the recognition of the needs of victims and the establishment of specialized protection programs that allow comprehensive care for victims and their families. It also focuses on the full integration to a dignified life free of fear, on the development of information, prevention and awareness campaigns in the media, educational programs, as well as on the promotion of citizen participation strategies.Comprehensive care programs for victims. This model should have, at least, 6 elements or areas of intervention: 1)Immediate response: certification, assessment and migration protection of the victim, 2)Diagnosis and referral of the problem to the appropriate authorities, 3)Attention to basic needs, 4)Integral health (physical and psychological), 5)Advice and legal support and, 6)Integral recovery and social and economic reintegration.2. Programs to protect victims and witnesses. While many countries of the Americas have legislation concerning the protection of witnesses, their implementation lacks appropriate mechanisms to ensure the safety of witnesses, generating, therefore, distrust of authorities and limiting the cooperation of witnesses in the process of prosecution. Progress is needed also in the establishment of international cooperation agreements, for evacuation, relocation and change of identity of witnesses.3. Information campaigns and public awareness. Progress is needed for distributing rights and protection mechanisms, the simplification of procedures, the access to justice and public awareness about the importance of reporting crime.4. Civil society involvement. The civil society organizations have played an important role in the care and protection of victims, since in many cases they generate a higher level of confidence in the population. It is important to recognize these efforts and leverage the extensive experience they have accumulated.
10 Areas of ActionIV. The economic dimension includes the development of projects that contribute to the socio-economic reintegration of victims, provide them with sources of income to cover certain costs associated with their treatment and/or legal proceedings, and provide them with access to a life of dignity without fear.Damage repair mechanisms. Crime rehabilitation approaches are relatively new. The framework of restorative justice involves the perpetrator, the victim and the entire community in efforts to create a balanced approximation to be addressed to the author and, at the same time focusing on the victim.Establishment of victims’ compensation fund. The victims’ compensation plans are funded by various sources. In some countries funds are fines and penalties from federal offenders, but may also include funds generated by seizures or organized crime organizations’ forfeitures.Rehabilitation and social reintegration of victims. The impact of crime on victims generates consequences that sometimes prevent proper and dignified social inclusion, whether by psychological or physical traces that crime caused to the victim, or the loss of assets, property or livelihood. It is therefore necessary to develop programs for the rehabilitation, psychological, physical, economic and social recovery of victims and their families, and make sure that they are provided with the necessary tools for a life of dignity and free from fear.
11 Araceli Azuara Ferreiro CoordinatorAssistance to Victims of Crime and Social Reintegration of OffendersDepartment of Public SecuritySecretariat of Multidimensional Security
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