Article 23 – Reimbursement of expenses

Article 23 – Reimbursement of expenses

1) Member States shall afford victims who participate in criminal proceedings, the possibility of reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of their active participation in criminal proceedings, in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system at least for travel costs from the victim’s place of residence to the premises of the proceedings. The conditions or procedural rules under which victims may be reimbursed shall be determined by national law.

Member States shall ensure timely reimbursement, in accordance with procedural rules determined by national law.

2) Member States shall provide advance payments to cover expenses for victims who are unable to cover costs themselves and require immediate financial assistance.

3) Where victims wish to attend proceedings other than for active participation, Member States shall take measures to facilitate the victim’s attendance of proceedings, including through electronic means.

COMMENTARY – Article 23

The European Commission did not make changes to this article in its proposal.

Victims experience many challenges with the reimbursement of costs connected to their participation in criminal proceedings. States may limit which costs may be reimbursed or may only reimburse costs when victims are obliged to attend proceedings, rather than when they exercise their participatory right to do so. Reimbursement is often linked to victims’ income levels, while complex procedures and delays in payments further compound this issue. Exposure to unplanned costs for participating in proceedings may lead to secondary victimisation, and negatively affect a victim’s wellbeing.

The VSE proposal seeks to rectify these problems. A victim’s financial situation should not negatively impact on their participation in proceedings. Our proposal prioritises the timely reimbursement of victims through simplified procedures, streamlining the process and reducing delays. The VSE proposal advocates for a list of expenses to be covered by all Member States, including as a minimum, travel costs for active participation, irrespective of the victim’s role in proceedings. This approach ensures that victims can access reimbursement for legitimate expenses related to participation. Additionally, the VSE proposal facilitates victims’ attendance, even through electronic means, making it more convenient for them to engage in proceedings. It also recognises the financial urgency faced by vulnerable victims, advocating for advance payments to provide immediate financial support as needed. This comprehensive approach aims to remove barriers to victim participation and ensure that reimbursement is not a burden, but a right upheld for all victims.