Protection of Victims in Estonia: A Survey Determining the Status Quo After Implementation of the Directive 2012/29/EU

Date01 April 2019
Published date01 April 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Protection of Victims
in Estonia: A Survey
Determining the
Status Quo After
Implementation of the
Directive 2012/29/EU
Anneli Soo1
Kerly Espenberg2
An online survey was conducted in Estonia among 223 judges, prosecutors,
police officers and victim support officers; 223 victims were interviewed via
phone and 26 legal professionals (including lawyers) were interviewed face to
face with an aim to determine the level of protection of victims after implementa-
tion of the Directive 2012/29/EU. The results reveal that victims lack knowledge
about their rights although law enforcement agencies are, in general, convinced
that they do a good job in this respect. Victims desire criminal proceedings in
which they are respected, their opinion is heard and matters, and they are kept
informed about developments of the case. The reality, however, does not meet
their expectations. As law enforcement agencies are focused on determining
guilt of a defendant, victims’ needs fall to the background. There seems to be a
dichotomy between the expectations of law enforcement officials and those of
the victims: While the latter awaits to be contacted and informed, the officials
expect at least certain initiative from victims themselves. The idea that victims
should be allowed to speak just to provide them with satisfaction and sense of
fair proceedings is still somewhat strange for the authorities. When it comes to
sentencing, some state officials believe that the opinions of a victim should not
even be asked as determination of the punishment is court’s business. Victims’
opinions are much more readily heard in the conciliation proceedings, which are
based on the ideas of restorative justice, but in which defendants’ needs seem to
have been forgotten.
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
2(1) 47–65, 2019
2019 National Law
University Delhi
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2516606918823600
1 Department of Criminal Law, School of Law, University of Tartu, Näituse 20, Estonia.
2 Centre for Applied Social Sciences, University of Tartu, Lossi 36, Estonia.
Corresponding author:
Anneli Soo, Department of Criminal Law, School of Law, University of Tartu, Näituse 20, 50409 Tartu,
48 Journal of Victimology and Victim Justice 2(1)
Directive 2012/29/EU, participation, restorative justice, victim protection
The contemporary victim-centred approach to criminal justice has two main
features. First, it supports victim’s participation in criminal proceedings, includ-
ing the victim’s right to make statements in the court. Empirical research has
established that ensuring procedural justice (fair treatment) to victims at the
police station gives them a sense of closure, empowerment and makes them feel
safer.3 This relates closely to the approach that people tend to accept the deci-
sions of authorities more easily when they consider the proceedings as a result
of which the decision was made fair.4 Second, the victim-centred approach
embraces the idea that the goal of the criminal justice system should be justice
to victims. The idea has found a central place in restorative theories of criminal
justice and includes apology and compensation to the victim, compensation to
the wider community and steps to be taken to lessen re-offending.5 These two
features, although both focusing on the importance of the victim’s role, have in
essence different goals. While advocates of victims’ rights demand for greater
participation of victims in classical activities such as investigation, prosecution,
trial and sentencing,6 restorative justice, although usually bound by the frame-
work of criminal justice,7 seeks to repair a broken relationship between the par-
ties.8 Therefore, in the view of restorative justice, punishment (and traditional
criminal proceedings) comes into play in the cases where restorative justice
3 Irina Elliot et al., Procedural Justice in Victim-Police Interactions and Victims’ Recovery from
Victimisation Experiences, 24 Polic. Soc. 588, 588–601 (2014).
4 Tom R. TyleR & yuen J. Huo, TRuST in THe law: encouRaging Public cooPeRaTion wiTH THe Police
and couRTS 7–9 (2002).
5 AndRew ASHwoRTH, SenTencing and CRiminal JuSTice 98 (6th ed. 2015). Logan, citing Mark Umbreit,
gives a definition of restorative justice as, ‘a victim-centred response to crime that provides opportuni-
ties for those most directly affected by crime—the victim, the offender, their families, and represen-
tatives of the community —to be directly involved in responding to the harm caused by the crime,
through mediation and dialogue whenever possible’. Cian Logan, Restorative Justice: Encouraging
More Meaningful Engagement with the Criminal Justice System, 13 Ucd L. Rev. 39, 39 (2013).
6 Here it is not suggested that the victim should determine the sentence but the authorities (particularly
the court) should hear the victim out. Johanna Shapland & Matthew Hall, Victims at Court: Necessary
Accessories or Principal Players at Centre Stage, in HeaRing THe vicTim: adveRSaRial JuSTice, cRime
vicTimS and THe STaTe 190 (anthony bottoms & Julian v. Roberts eds., 2010).
7 Johanna Shapland, Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Just Responses to Crime, in ReSToRaTive
JuSTice and cRiminal JuSTice: comPeTing oR Reconcilable PaRadigmS? 215 (andrew Vo n Hirsch et
al. eds., 2003).
8 S.E. Marshall, ‘It Isn’t Just About You’: Victims of Crime, Their Associated Duties, and Public
Wrongs, in CRiminalizaTion: THe PoliTical MoRaliTy of THe CRiminal Law 296 (R.A. Duff et al. eds.,
2014); Golan Luzon, Restorative Justice and Normative Responsibility, 4 ReSToRaTive JuST. 27, 33

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