Damages fund for crime victims expected to be established in May

A new fund for payment of damages to victims of violent crimes in Bonaire, St. Eusta­tius and Saba will be intro­duced in May, Chief Pros­ecutor Henry Hambeukers said.

The Violent Offences Com­pensation Fund, or Schade­fonds Geweldsmisdrijven in Dutch, is a “pot” of money made available by the Dutch Government from which people who are victims of violent crimes can get their damages paid out in full or partially.

The Fund gives financial compensation to people who have become victims of vio­lent crimes resulting in seri­ous psychological or physical injuries.

By compensating the dam­ages suffered, the Compen­sation Fund acknowledges that the victims have been wronged.

Surviving relatives of vic­tims of violent crimes or in­voluntary manslaughter are also victims themselves. In providing compensation to­wards the damage sustained the Compensation Fund acknowledges the injustice done to the victims; by doing so the Compensation Fund contributes to the rebuilding of trust.

The offender still bears the primary responsibility for compensating the damage caused. If this is not possible and the damage is not com­pensated in any other way a victim or surviving relative can turn to the Compensa­tion Fund.

Founded in 1976, the Com­pensation Fund is an autono­mous division of the Ministry of Security and Justice. It assesses the applications au­tonomously and is financed by general funds.

Former Minister of Secu­rity and Justice Ard van der Steur decided that victims in Bonaire, Statia and Saba should also be eligible for the compensation from the Fund. The Fund does not only cover physical damages, “if something you own gets destroyed by someone, this person can also file a request to get the damages paid for,” Hambeukers said.

The Judge in a Court of Law can also sentence persons who are convicted of violent crimes to pay damages to the victim. In complicated cases, damages are usually handled in a civil court procedure. “In criminal law, when the damages presented by a vic­tim to the Judge are in a very clear relation to the crime the perpetrator is prosecut­ed for, then the Judge can award damages to the victim. Persons can seek damages for pain or loss, and the fam­ily of someone who died can also seek damages as there is a lot of cost related to a buri­al. They can also ask for pay­ment of damages for the loss of a loved one,” Hambeukers explained.

In cases of rape, for in­stance, the victim can request several thousands of dollars in immaterial damages from the convicted person. “If the Judge thinks it is fair, the per­petrator can be convicted of payment of immaterial dam­ages,” the Chief Prosecutor said.

“It might feel good when the perpetrator is sent to jail; it does not make right what has happened. Financial compensation may be help­ful.” he said.

The benefit is intended to mitigate the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as any financial damage he or she may have incurred as a result of the crime such as cost of medical care or a reduction in income.

By providing financial sup­port, the Compensation Fund wants to help victims move forward so they can look to the future again. Everyone who turns to the Police to file a complaint will be asked if they want damag­es to be paid for. If they say “yes” they will receive infor­mation from the Prosecutor’s office about when the case will be handled in a Court of Law and about how they will be able to obtain payment.

The Daily Herald.

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