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Reps consider bill seeking to provide compensation for crime victims

Reps consider bill seeking to provide compensation for crime victims
February 23
17:45 2022

The house of representatives is considering a bill seeking to provide compensation for victims of crime.

The ‘Citizen’s Bill of Rights (Establishment) Bill, 2022’ passed first reading at the lower legislative chamber on Wednesday.

The bill is sponsored by Henry Archibong, a legislator representing Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency of Akwa Ibom state.

The bill proposes the establishment of a department in the ministry of justice to be named ‘Victims’ Right and Compensation Regulatory Department (VRCRD)’.

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The department will have the responsibility of investigating complaints from victims of crime or other members of the public.

The proposed legislation provides that a spouse or relative can exercise a victim’s right if the victim dies or becomes incapable of acting on his or her own as a result of the crime.

The bill defines victims as persons who have “suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of his or her fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of our criminal laws”.

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In a chat with TheCable, Archibong said the provisions of the bill are aimed at reducing crime in society.

According to the legislator, there are laws in other countries that require victims of crime to be compensated, but none exists in Nigeria.

“We just had a case where people were killed at the tollgate in Lagos during #EndSARS. They had a right to protest and for some reason, some of them were killed. But it will interest you that there are no laws in this country to make for compensation for such people,” he said.

“Take for example, a girl is raped and the rapist is taken to court then sentenced to imprisonment. Then what happens to the victim of rape?

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“Sentencing the guy or the woman, as the case may be, to prison does not vitiate the harm and the psychological trauma that the victim has been exposed to. I feel the victim should be compensated.

“Some of these victims of crime will live with the trauma for the rest of their lives, especially in rape cases. Some of them find it very difficult to adjust. Some of them can’t stay in a house with a man because of what plays inside their head.

“Even if the compensation may not take away the trauma, there is a need for victims of crime to be compensated.

“If I know that I have somebody that is bad and if I suspect that the person may commit a crime and I am a member of the family that will be affected by the crime and my property will be taken as damage, I will be more concerted to make sure that I don’t allow the person to commit a crime, and expose the person to the police so that he can be held.”

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Archibong also said criminal justice personnel often act unprofessionally and sometimes stigmatise victims of crime, and the bill provides for them to be trained on how to do their jobs properly.

“There are so many people who work in the criminal justice system who do not actually know their jobs,” he said.

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“Those in the criminal justice system will be trained to know how to handle victims of crime, because already they (victims of crime) are traumatised and can go into depression.”

The bill’s first reading comes about two weeks after a bill seeking to provide compensation for victims of kidnapping and banditry passed first reading.

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