Article 35 – Right to physical protection

Article 35 – Right to physical protection

1) Member States shall ensure that measures and procedures are established under national law for the physical protection of victims and their family members throughout criminal proceedings. Competent authorities shall offer information and assistance to victims and their family members in implementing the proposed measures. Such measures shall include:

a) continuous or temporary presence of law enforcement authorities;

b) barring, restraining or protection orders to provide protection for victims against any acts of violence, including by prohibiting or restraining certain dangerous behaviour of the offender;

2) Member States shall ensure that competent authorities are enabled to issue in a speedy and timely manner appropriate restraining, protection or emergency barring orders to victims who are in danger of repeat victimisation, intimidation or retaliation.

3) Protection orders shall be:

a) available for immediate protection and without undue financial or administrative burdens placed on the victim;

b) issued for a specified period or until modified or discharged;

c) where necessary, issued on an ex officio basis which has immediate effect.

Member States shall ensure that any breaches of restraining or protection orders shall be subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal or other legal sanctions.

COMMENTARY – Article 35

The current Victims’ Rights Directive does not contain specific provisions on physical protection measures for victims. Across EU Member States, physical protection orders have generally been developed for victims of domestic violence, leaving victims of other crimes at risk.[1] For instance, reports[2] show significant shortcomings in the availability of such measures for all victims of crime, including a lack of support for victims who fear retaliation, both for themselves and family members, after filing a complaint or during criminal proceedings.  

The European Commission’s proposal introduces changes to address these concerns, laid out in a paragraph on physical protection measures.

In general, VSE supports these proposals. However, the proposed changes come with limitations, they apply only to victims with specific protection needs and exclude the protection needs of family members. Furthermore, it lacks specific detail on the procedures for obtaining protection measures and for reviewing cases when protection orders are denied or breached. These issues act as barriers to victims receiving protection in a timely manner and can ultimately put victims lives in danger.

VSE therefore proposes a more comprehensive stance. It advocates for the availability of physical protection measures not only for victims but also for their families throughout proceedings, irrespective of crime type or personal characteristics. It emphasises the importance of timely procedures and a swift implementation of measures, when needed. Additionally, our proposal calls for penalties in case of breaches of protection orders, reinforcing the commitment to safeguarding victims and their families throughout the criminal justice process.

[1] Suzan van der Aa, Johanna Niemi, Lorena Sosa, Ana Ferreira & Anna Baldry (2015). Mapping the legislation and assessing the impact of protection orders in the European Member States, (Oisterwijk: Wolf Legal Publishers),

[2] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2019). Proceedings that do justice. Justice for victims of violent crime: Part II, (Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union),; Victim Support Europe (2023), Discussion paper on Safe Justice for Victims of Crime,