Right to sparing treatment

Apart from rules which are to ensure the physical protection of the victim, there are precautions to ensure that victims are treated as sparingly as possible in criminal proceedings in order to keep the distress from a renewed confrontation with the crime and its description to a minimum. These include, interalia.

  • The right of the victim to sit down during police questioning. The right to ask for breaks in lengthy hearings.
  • Right to bring a trusted person Every victim has the right to bring a trusted person to hearings.
  • Right to sparing treatment The criminal police, the public prosecutor and the court are held to heed the rights and interests of crime victims in an appropriate fashion. Moreover, all authorities, institutions and persons involved in criminal proceedings must treat victims during the proceedings with respect regarding their personal dignity, interests and privacy. A victim’s identity must be specially protected; disseminating photographs and particulars about the person which could lead to their identity becoming known to a larger circle is allowed only if necessary in the interest of criminal justice administration.
The right not to meet with the accused

By exception, the presiding judge may have the defendant removed from the courtroom during the hearing of a witness.
On return, the defendant is to be informed about what happened and was said in the meantime.

You may request the removal of the defendant; it is up to the judge to grant or deny such a request, as the case may be.

Special groups of victims
Some groups of victims, such as victims of sexually motivated criminal offences, enjoy more extensive rights to a sparing treatment.

  • Right to bring a trusted person Every victim has the right to bring a trusted person to the hearings. If persons are questioned who are mentally ill or disabled, or who are younger than 14 years, they must necessarily be accompanied by a trusted person.
  • Contradictorial (shielded) examination Contradictorial examinations are conducted during the preliminary proceedings in a separate room, without the accused, counsel of defence, the public prosecutor and other persons involved being present. They can watch the hearing only by an audio and video link. If they want to ask questions, they have to put their questions through the judge. Only the judge and the trusted person are allowed in the room with the victim. The advantage is that the victim is required to testify only once during the investigative proceedings (before indictment) and is not exposed to direct confrontation with the offender. Victims of sexual crimes are entitled to a contradictorial examination on request. Victims younger than 14 years must be questioned by way of contradictorial examination on application. If victims have been violated in their sexual sphere, they must be examined in this setting by the judge or by a court expert as appropriate.
  • Other rights to sparing treatment Moreover, victims whose sexual integrity may have been violated may refuse to answer individual questions if they had otherwise have to divulge details of the act they consider inacceptable to describe. However, this right is limited: if testimony is indispensable because of the special relevance of the statement for the proceedings, victims may be compelled to testify in spite of their refusal. If possible, victims of sexual violence must be examined by a person of their own sex in the investigative proceedings.
  • Psychically impaired victims and victims with special needs Atrusted person must be called in for the examination of these victims.