While the revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive offers some improvements , victims of elder abuse still lack targeted and integrated support.
On 12 July 2023, the European Commission published its proposal, amending the Victims’ Rights Directive (VRD). AGE Platform Europe welcomes the revision of the Victims Rights Directive and its focus on protecting the rights of victims. This new proposal includes improving access to support, information and safety for victims in vulnerable situation. This is why we joined VSE and 60 civil society organisations in a joint statement that provides a first general response to the revised Directive and expresses our shared views, concerns, and recommendations.
A recent EC consultation gave us the opportunity to provide further feedback on the draft directive. In our answer we stress that we regret the fact that -while the suggested text pays particular attention to some victims’ groups, which may require specialized support and protection – it ignores the reality of many older victims.
As mentioned in the recent report of the UN Independent Expert on the rights of older persons, only 1/3 of countries globally had adult protective services to assist older persons in need. Existing service providers are less focused on issues related to older persons in comparison with child protection services and medico-legal services for gender-based and sexual violence. Therefore, these services might not be appropriate for their specific needs as older persons, especially for older women.
In our feedback, we stress that there is a lack of awareness of the potential of the Directive among organisations of older persons, and the professionals responsible for supporting and protecting victims are often unaware of the specificities of elder abuse and how to reach out to victims. Given this reality and the very high levels of underreporting, there is an urgency to ensure that victim protection mechanisms can become more effective and reflect the realities faced by older persons, especially those who are victims of violence, abuse and exploitation. The revision of the 2012 Directive provides an excellent opportunity to increase visibility of crimes against older people and improve older victim support services. But with a lack of common understanding on what targeted and integrated support is required for older victims, there is a real risk that existing services will continue to not be tailored to the needs of older victims and that cases of elder abuse will remain invisible. In addition, it would be important to strengthen protection and facilitate reporting of crimes against older people in care settings, in particular those in residential long-term care institutions to the same extent that such measures are envisaged for people in detention facilities. For these reasons, the proposed text should explicitly include older persons in targeted action, including in prevention measures. In addition, while we welcome the possibility for victims to exercise their rights to information and access justice using electronic communication means, such means should not displace the need for non-digital information and access to services and justice. Finally, the directive should call for information and disaggregated data on older people, including people over 75 to monitor and evaluate the impact of victim support services on this group.
Human Rights Manager