DCM Kelly Degnan Remarks at the Opening Ceremony Crime Victims’ Rights Week
October 15, 2012
Good morning, Deputy Prime Minister Kuci, Chief State Prosecutor Kabashi and distinguished participants and guests. I am honored to be here with you this morning. When my colleagues asked me to speak here today, I immediately said yes because I think crime victims are often neglected and forgotten in our focus on perpetrators. That this is the third annual Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Kosovo is a testament to your commitment and to your progressive thinking, so I commend for you that.
Crime Victims’ Rights Week is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on what is most important in our lives; the safety and respect of our loved ones, the safety and respect of our communities. Every time someone is victimized we see how fragile the security of our communities can be. Crime Victims’ Rights Week reminds us that anyone can be a victim – you, me, your children, your parents – we are all vulnerable to being victims and we must work together to protect the vulnerable.
Since anyone can be a victim, everyone should know what rights victims have. This knowledge is the first step to empowering victims. With knowledge of our rights, we know how to report an incident to the police. We know how to ask for help and to seek services that are available to us.
To take these steps though, we must first recognize when someone is a victim. This is not always easy. Sometimes people are ashamed to be victims. Or they do not want to ask for help.
Frequently victims and their problems are dismissed because people fail to understand different types of victimization or have preconceived notions about who can be victimized. But as I said, we can all be victims.
And now new types of crimes, as we just saw in this film clip, have emerged and proliferated. They are a result of technological changes, globalization, and demographics. Social media and cyber bullying threaten children and adults in ways we never could have imagined. And these are serious, painful, scarring kinds of crimes. Meanwhile, the long-standing types of victimization endure, demanding a renewed commitment to action.
This is why Crime Victims’ Rights Week is important; so that everyone can learn about different types of crimes and different types of victimization, and everyone can learn to treat victims with respect, with patience, and with compassion.
Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an annual opportunity to engage the public in the struggle for victims’ rights. It captures the spirit and the resolve that are needed to realize the common goal of reaching each victim in need, providing them with hope and help, one victim at a time.
Last year, my predecessor Michael Murphy called upon the government of Kosovo to develop a Standard Operating Procedure for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. To achieve that goal Kosovo has appointed a National Coordinator for Domestic Violence. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Justice, victim service providers and participants in the justice system are participating in ongoing working groups to improve and harmonize the treatment of victims. These are important steps in creating government services that are of assistance to victims and avoiding their revictimization in the pursuit of justice. And I think that’s something we can all agree we do not want.
I applaud the skill, energy, and strength that you and others in Kosovo have demonstrated in working with crime victims every day. Crime Victims’ Rights Week is about every one of us. It’s about our families, and those we want to help and protect after the trauma of a criminal attack.
The United States is pleased to be a partner in this cooperation. I can assure you we will continue to support Kosovo’s efforts to seek justice for all victims, to create an environment where all citizens can prosper and thrive. We do not want to see crime victims forgotten or neglected.