Assistance to victims of terrorism and their families is a key part of EU counter-terrorism efforts. However, victims and their associations can also contribute to preventing terrorist radicalisation and send a message of non-violence and reconciliation. Their testimony is indispensable for the global recognition of the dangers that terrorism presents to human life, welfare and our way of living.
Every year, the 11th of March marks the anniversary of the 2004 Madrid-Atocha train bombings that killed 192 and injured at least 1 800 people commuting to work. Thus, the EU has devoted that date to remembering all victims of terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
The EU wants to ensure that support and assistance is provided to the victims of terrorist crimes and their families. The Stockholm Programme called for examination how legislation and practical support measures for the protection of victims, including the victims of terrorism, could be further improved. The EU has already adopted a Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings and a Directive on compensation to crime victims . In addition, a Framework Decision on combating terrorism ensures appropriate assistance for victims' families.
The Commission has also been providing funding for projects led by public and private organisations. An average of EUR 1.8 million a year have helped victims and/or their families to recover from the consequences of a terrorist attack. The EU co-financed projects led by victims' organisations and associations offer social or psychological support and training for practitioners or contribute to raising awareness of the European public.
Recently, the EU committed a budget of EUR 2 million for projects addressing the role of victims of terrorism in preventing radicalisation and countering violent narratives. These actions will further help sensitise citizens and provide platforms for victims to counter and delegitimize the violent narratives of terrorism.
The Commission has set up a European Network of Associations of Victims of Terrorism (NAVT). The main aim of this network is to stimulate trans-national cooperation between associations of victims of terrorism and enhance the representation of victims' interests at the EU-level. On its website, the network provides useful information, including the mapping of associations and organisations specialised in supporting victims of terrorism, funding opportunities, a calendar of events, a library with relevant publications as well as a chat forum.
On the external front, the EU works on strengthening cooperation with partner countries and international organisations in view of promoting international solidarity with those who have suffered a terrorist attack. In particular, the EU has organised a successful EU-US joint seminar on preventing violent extremism. The seminar allowed the identification of a number of areas for coordinated action to address violent extremism more effectively. For example, the EU and the US agreed to closely work on the issue of challenging violent extremist narratives by using terrorist victims' voices.
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