Victims of Crimes and Abuse

Time to read page:

Human rights law requires Government to refrain from interfering with individuals’ human rights. 

It also places positive duties on Government to protect individuals from other private persons or entities. This is particularly relevant in the area of protecting individuals from crimes and abuse such as:

  • Sexual or domestic violence

  • Hate crimes

  • Trafficking

  • Abuse in care settings

The human rights engaged in such cases can vary, but the procedural obligations are similar:


1) Government is required to introduce appropriate criminal laws with dissuasive, effective and proportionate sanctions attached. Government must also adopt policies and ensure the effective enforcement of the law.



2) Where a public authority is aware or should be aware of a real risk to a person’s safety, it is required to take all reasonable measures to ensure individuals are not subject to violence and abuse. The failure to take action to avert the risk can amount to a violation of human rights.



3) As part of the duty to effectively enforce the law and guarantee a remedy to victims, Government must take measures to ensure the prompt investigation of human rights abuses and prosecute and punish the perpetrators. The failure to ensure an effective investigation can result in a separate violation.



4) Victims of crimes and abuse should have access to protection, health care, emotional and other support services. Where they act as witnesses in criminal proceedings, there should be adequate support structures in place. 


Rights Engaged

Right to private and family life
  • ECHR/HRA, Art 8
  • ICCPR, Art 17
  • UNCRPD, Arts 22, 23, 31
  • UNCRC, Art 16

Learn more about this right

Right to life
  • ECHR/HRA, Art 2
  • ECHR, Prot 13, Art 1
  • ICCPR, Art 6
  • UNCRPD, Art 10

Learn more about this right

Right to health
  • ESC, Art 11
  • ICESCR, Art 12
  • UNCEDAW, Art 12
  • UNCRPD, Art 25
  • UNCRC, Art 24

Learn more about this right

Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • ECHR/HRA, Art 3
  • ICCPR, Art 7
  • UNCRPD, Art 15
  • UNCRC, Art 37

Learn more about this right

Right to an effective remedy
  • ECHR, Art 13
  • ICCPR, Art 2(3)
  • CAT, Art 14
  • UNCEDAW, Art 2(c)
  • ICERD, Art 6

Learn more about this right

Right to equality and non-discrimination
  • ECHR/HRA, Art 14
  • ICCPR, Arts 2, 3, 26
  • ICESCR, Art 2
  • ICERD    
  • UNCRPD             

Learn more about this right

Right to security of the person
  • ECHR/HRA, Art 5(1)
  • ICCPR, Art 9(1)
  • UNCRPD, Art 14(1)(a)
Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
  • UNCEDAW, Art 6
  • UNCRPD, Art 16
  • UNCRC, Arts 19, 34, 35, 36, 39
Protection from trafficking and sexual exploitation
  • UNCEDAW, Art 6
  • UNCRC, Arts 34, 35
  • UNCRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Prohibition of hate speech and hate crime
  • ICCPR, Art 20
  • ICERD, Art 4