Victims of crime are recognised to have a set of rights which they can exercise in order to meet their needs and defend their interests and expectations.

These rights are set out not just in national laws but also in international legal instruments, such as the European Union Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support, and protection of victims of crime.
To read this Directive, click here. – pdf

Here you can get to know these rights better and learn how they can be put into practice.
If any of these rights are not respected, the victim should report this to the authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the infringed right.

APAV can help you exercise some of these rights by providing information and explanations and guiding you through any procedures with the authorities.
However, please note that APAV does not represent crime victims in criminal proceedings.


During any criminal case, the victim is entitled to be heard and to provide information that may be important for the investigation and submit evidence. When the crime is first reported (if this is done by the victim), he/she has the opportunity to provide as much relevant information and evidence as possible to the authorities receiving the report. Later on in the investigation, the victim will be called on by the police or, in some cases, by the Public Prosecution Service, to make a statement. At this time, the victim can add details that were not mentioned in the formal report or complaint. If the defendant is charged, the victim will be called upon again to give a statement and to answer the questions of the different participants in the trial. In the case of victims of human trafficking or sexual crimes, the examining judge may, or must when a victim of a sexual crime is a minor, question the victim at the inquiry stage or the examination stage. This means that their statement may, if necessary, be taken into account during the trial, so as to avoid having them repeat their testimony more than once. The participants in this examination, besides the examining judge, are the public prosecutor, the defendant and the defence lawyer and the lawyers of the assistant and of the civil parties. This statement is known as a statement for future recall and is recorded for use during the trial. However, the trial judge will very often want the witnesses to testify and they may be called and questioned again. In addition, whenever the victim has information they consider important to communicate immediately, they can, and should, do so straightaway, preferably in writing, to whichever authority is dealing with the case at the time. The authorities can also, at any time, ask the victim for further information or clarification. APAV can help you exercise this right.



In cases involving petty crimes or less serious crimes, such as threats, petty damage and non-aggravated assault, among others, the law allows the situation to be resolved through mediation between the victim and the defendant, as long as the defendant has acknowledged the commission of the crime. Accordingly, during the inquiry stage, the Public Prosecution Service may, on its own initiative or at the request of the victim or the defendant, refer the case to mediation, informing the victim and the defendant of the fact and that they will be contacted by a mediator. Mediators have specialised training for the purpose and their role is to promote and facilitate communication between the participants in the mediation process. The mediation process is free of charge, confidential and voluntary, that is, victims need only participate if they agree to it and may withdraw at any time. The mediator, in the first contact with the victim, should explain what mediation is, what results and consequences it may have, what rights and duties the participants have and what the role of the mediator is. This information is very important for the victim to be fully aware and able to decide if they want to participate or not. The mediation process provides a place of communication between the victim and the offender with the help of an impartial mediator, where the victim may let the offender know about the harm caused by the crime and the offender can assume responsibility for the crime. The victim and the offender can also try to reach a settlement together, which may include the payment of compensation, the provision of a service by the offender either for the benefit of the victim or of the community in general, or even an apology. In the case of a settlement, the mediator will inform the Public Prosecution Service and the case will be closed; otherwise the case will go ahead. For more information on the Criminal Mediation System, please click here. For more information on criminal mediation and restorative justice, please click here. APAV can help you exercise this right.



Access to justice seeks to ensure that nobody is hindered in or prevented from exercising or protecting their rights because of their social or cultural background, financial means or knowledge. Victims are entitled to legal aid and advice about their role during the entire procedure. Victims are also entitled to legal aid when they have the status of assistant or of a civil party, or when, as witnesses, they would like to be accompanied by a lawyer at any procedure but cannot afford the expenses. Legal aid includes: total or partial exemption from the payment of court fees; appointment of a lawyer and payment of his/her fees; or payment of court fees or legal fees in instalments. Applications for legal aid are decided by the social security services on the basis of a calculation of the assets, income and expenses of the applicant. Legal aid application forms are provided free of charge by the social security services, and may be submitted in person, by fax, by post or online. The application must be accompanied by documents proving the applicant’s lack of means, and the decision will be given within 30 days. The application is free of charge for the victim. For more information and to see the legal aid form, please click here. When an application for the appointment of a lawyer is approved, the social security services will ask the Portuguese Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados) to assign a lawyer to represent the victim. Victims of domestic violence, female genital mutilation, slavery, human trafficking, sexual coercion and rape are exempt from payment of court fees. APAV can help you exercise your rights.



Victims with specific protection needs are people who, owing to their personal characteristics, the type or nature of the crime, and the circumstances in which it occurred, are particularly vulnerable to repeated victimisation, secondary victimisation, intimidation or retaliation. These victims will therefore require special care, especially with regard to their level of protection. This vulnerability should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Particular attention should be paid to victims who suffered considerable harm due to the severity and gravity of the crime, to victims of crimes committed for discriminatory reasons related to their personal characteristics, and to victims whose relationship to and dependence on the offender make them particularly vulnerable. Special care should therefore be given to victims of terrorism, organised crime, human trafficking, gender-based violence, violence in close relationships, sexual violence and hate crimes. Regardless of the type of crime, children, the elderly and those who suffer from an illness or disabilities should be given particular attention when being assessed for specific protection needs. When a particularly vulnerable victim has to participate in any part of the proceedings, the Public Prosecution Service or the judge should take steps to ensure that this takes place under the best possible conditions. The purpose is to ensure that the victim answers spontaneously and sincerely: the statements of particularly vulnerable victims should be taken as soon as possible; these interviews should be carried out by a trained professional and, if the victim needs to be questioned more than once, the interviews should, in principle, be conducted by the same person; interviews with victims of sexual violence, gender-based violence or violence in close relationships, when not conducted by a judge or a public prosecutor, should be conducted by a person of the same sex as the victim, if the victim so wishes; all parts of the proceedings should be organised so that a particularly vulnerable witness does not meet certain participants in the same proceedings, particularly the defendant; when it is necessary to avoid visual contact between the victim and the defendant, the victim should be questioned using an appropriate means of concealment or teleconferencing and need not even be in the courtroom; the victim will be questioned by the judge, and afterwards, the other judges, the public prosecutor, the defence lawyer and the lawyers of the civil parties may suggest additional questions which are then asked, not directly by these people but by the judge; victims must not be asked questions about their private lives that are unrelated to the offence committed against them; in some cases, the different parts of the proceedings, including the trial, may take place without the presence of the public. As soon as a particular vulnerability of the victim is identified, a social worker or other person who is suitably qualified should be appointed to accompany them and, if necessary, psychological support should be provided by a specialised professional. At any stage of the proceedings, the judge, at the request of the Public Prosecution Service, may decide to have particularly vulnerable victims removed from their family or closed social group and have them placed in an institution. All these measures may also be applied to witnesses who may be considered particularly vulnerable according to the criteria mentioned above. APAV can help you exercise your rights.



Being the victim of a crime in a foreign country places victims in a particularly vulnerable situation, as they do not know how criminal proceedings work or what support services are available, they have difficulty understanding another language and their stay in the country where the crime was committed is usually a short one, which makes it difficult to participate it and keep abreast of the case. People who are the victims of a crime in a country other than their country of residence should be able to avail themselves of measures that make it easier for them to participate and, in particular, to be informed about the progress of the case. These measures include the authorities providing all the necessary information and appointing an interpreter to ensure the victim fully understands the different procedures in which they participate. A resident of a European Union Member State who is the victim of a crime in another Member State may report the crime to the authorities in their country of residence, if they have not reported it in the country where the crime was committed. In this case, the authorities of the victim’s country of residence should promptly transmit the complaint to the relevant authorities of the country where the crime was committed. In the European Union, the victim of a crime that occurred in a country other than their country of residence may make a statement immediately after the crime was committed. In Portugal, a victim who resides in another country may make a statement that can later be used as evidence at the trial, thus avoiding the victim having to return to Portugal. This statement is called a statement for future recall (declarações para memória futura). However, if it is necessary to question the victim again but they are no longer in the country where the crime was committed, they may be questioned in a telephone conference or videoconference call from the country in which they reside. Victims of a violent crime committed in a European Union Member State who usually reside in another Member State may file their claim for compensation with the authority in their country of residence which has the jurisdiction to assess and decide on this kind of request. This authority should transmit the request to the relevant authority of the Member State in which the crime occurred. In Portugal, the authority with the jurisdiction both to receive claims from people who reside in other countries and who were victims of crime in Portugal and to send the claims of persons resident in Portugal who were the victims of crime in other European Union countries is the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crime. APAV can help you exercise your rights. For more information, please click here or here.


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