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Struggling for justice: Entitlements and experiences of bereaved families following homicide abroad

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This report looks at the entitlements and experiences of victims’ families who have been bereaved by homicide abroad.

As well as identifying the entitlements, procedures and support that victims should be able to expect from the British authorities when they lose a loved one abroad, the report also examined the real lived experience of 12 such families.

The report finds that families can face an uphill struggle in their battle for justice in another country, whose culture, language and justice system are completely alien. Victims highlight practical difficulties, like getting documents translated, trying to get information about the progress of the criminal investigation or problems getting their loved one’s body released after post-mortem. They often need legal support and some struggle with the costs of accessing such support, as well as covering the cost of interpreters, translations of documents and travelling to and from the country concerned.

Despite the good efforts of agencies and charities working in this area, the report concludes more needs to be done to help them through their ordeal.

The report makes 17 recommendations for UK government and criminal justice agencies, including:

  • Bereaved victims of homicide abroad should be eligible to claim Criminal Injuries Compensation.
  • The FCO should take responsibility for translating all key documents for the bereaved families, including post mortem reports, initial investigation reports, criminal charges and sentencing details.
  • The FCO, MoJ, Homicide Service and the National Police Chief’s Council should work with victim organisations to review the current process and consider how it might be improved.
  • Key entitlements for victims of murder abroad should be included in Victims’ Code.
  • Only police officers who have been trained to deliver death notifications should be allocated to this role wherever possible and all victims should be referred to the Homicide Service within one working day of agreeing to their details being passed on.
  • All consulates should review their lists of local lawyers and translators and quality assure those on the list.
  • Arrangements should be put in place to alert victims when the British perpetrator of a homicide abroad is repatriated to a British prison and that the victim is given an opportunity to join the Victim Contact Scheme.