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Is legal support for victims available from public agencies/bodies? Is there access for victims to assistance and justice?

Key Area:
Anti-discrimination Legislation & Implementation
Discrimination, Equality
21/12/2011 - 13:24
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

Chaired by the Minister of Justice, the National Council for Victims (Conseil National d’Aide aux Victimes, CNAV) is responsible for coordinating government action with other non-governmental bodies to ensure and strengthen the rights of victims in criminal proceedings. Locally, the County Councils for Crime Prevention (Conseils Départementaux de Prévention de la Délinquance, CDPD) are required to have a specific steering committee for victim support. The judge appointed to victims (juge délégué aux victimes, JUDEVI), created by a decree of 13 November 2007, is responsible for "correct dispersion of actions and responsibilities in guiding the victim through the maze of the judiciary" The judge for the enforcement of sentences (juge de l'application des peines, JAP) also plays an important role as the situation of victims is an important factor in the process of deprivation or restriction of individual freedom. Attorneys are the first point of contact for victims. One-stop offices (Guichets uniques de greffes, GUG) have been in place since 1998, and are responsible for allocating cases among different courts. Decree No. 2004-1364 of 13 December 2004 has set up, in each court, an Office for the enforcement of sentences (Bureau d’exécution des peines, BEX). Its role is to meet victims at the end of the trial to inform them on how to obtain payment of damages and on the procedure of the Commission for compensation of victims of crime. There are also quasi-judicial bodies such as the Commission for compensation of victims of crime (Commission d’indemnisation des victimes d’infraction, CIVI) which provides compensation to victims by a simple and rapid procedure (Article 706 of the CPP). If the conditions for referral to the Commission are not met, the guarantee fund for victims of terrorism and other offences (fonds de garantie des victimes d'actes de terrorisme et d'autres infractions, FGTI) is responsible for the amounts due to be paid directly to the victim. Another advance is the creation by the Law of 1 July 2008 on the support service for the recovery of damages for victims of crime (service d’aide au recouvrement des dommages et intérêts pour les victimes d’infractions, SARVI). There are also victim support administrative agencies, which are united by the National Institute for Victims and Mediation.  The service for victims of crime (le service d’aide aux victimes d’infractions, SAVI) is a national structure under the Ministry of Justice. Its role is to coordinate projects, develop best practices and monitor the services offered and the allocation of subsidies. A delegation of victims from the Ministry of the Interior, established in October 2005, has among its tasks to work on improving reception conditions of victims and the public by the police and gendarmerie units. Victims of discrimination can also seek legal support in the Defender of Rights office where they can obtain free legal advice.

Victims can benefit from legal aid. According to the Act of 10 July 199139, legal aid is awarded on the basis of the person’s financial means; the maximum resources to benefit from legal aid is 1367€ per month. In this case, the aid covers 15% of the expenses. The aid gradually increases as the resources decrease; persons earning less than 911€ per month are awarded full coverage of their legal expenses. This system allows people without any means or with low incomes to obtain from the State the payment of all or part of the costs of a trial.

The most important restriction on access to an effective remedy in relation to discrimination concerns the statute of limitations to facts. The common law provides a prescription in 30 years whereas it is limited to only 5 years in the field of discriminations. In parallel to this rule, the legislature has also discreetly introduced a significant change in the Labour Code by including a new Article L. 1134-5 which provides that "an action for damages resulting from discrimination is prescribed by five years after the disclosure of the acts of discrimination".




Groups affected/interested Majority
Type (R/D) On grounds of other belief
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Daily life
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