Victims of Corporate Violence in the European Union: Challenges for Criminal Justice and Potentials for European Policy

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This book chapter stems from a EU-funded project entitled “Victims and Corporations. Implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU for Victims of Corporate Crimes and Corporate Violence" co-funded by the conjunct programme “Rights, Equality and Citizenship” and “Justice” of the European Union ( The project’s findings are presented in the collective publication of which this essay is only one among various interdisciplinary contributions. European Union Directive 2012/29/UE introduces a ‘system’ of minimum standards on the rights, support and protection for victims of crimes, and their participation to criminal proceedings, without prejudice to the rights of the offender. Within the scope of the Directive and its definition of ‘victim’, though, there is a relevant group of victims who have not yet received enough consideration, and whose access to justice may be at stake. It is the victims of corporate crimes, and particularly of corporate violence, meaning those criminal offences committed by corporations in the course of their legitimate activities, which result in harms to natural persons’ health, integrity, or life. Within the vast area of corporate crime, the project focuses on three main strands of victimisation: environmental crime, food safety violations and offences in the pharmaceutical industry with the aim to explore intersections and potential synergies between Directive 2012/29/EU and the existing body of EU legal tools in these three sectors. Section 1 of this particular chapter provides an overview of the current ‘state of the art’ with respect to the general issue of victims’ rights, support and protection in light of the EU legal system. Directive 2012/29/UE is analysed in connection with the comprehensive, multi-level, ‘package’ of legal tools and measures concerning the rights and the protection of victims of crime in the EU. The chapter analyses the EU legal instruments devoted to both victims of crime in general and specific ‘vulnerable’ groups of victims (children, victims of gender violence, victims of human trafficking, etc.). Particular attention is devoted to the issue of victims’ protection, seen as a crucial - yet problematic - topic in between victims’ support and victims' access to justice. The rights and safeguards of the suspected and the accused persons are constantly kept in mind in order to counterbalance the risks of a ‘victim-centred’ paradigm, which may put fundamental principles of criminal law and criminal procedure at stake. Section 2 of this book chapter focuses on victims of corporate crime and corporate violence in particular, pointing out how these victims as such are not—or at least not yet—formally recognised as belonging to a ‘vulnerable group’ in either international or European (soft or hard) legal sources, despite the studies now available about the specific character of corporate victimisation and the many cases occurring worldwide. Section 2 of the book chapter examines Directive 2012/29/EU with a focus on its implementation in the specific field of corporate crime and corporate violence. The provisions of the Victims Directive that most directly pertain to corporate (violence) victimisation are analysed, pointing out questions and thorny problems, such as those concerning the prevention of corporate violence in order to avoid victimisation in the first place, and to protect corporate victims from ongoing risks and repeat victimisation. Section 3 of the book chapter is devoted to future legal challenges and open issues in responding to the needs of victims of corporate violence and in addressing their rights throughout the European Union.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteVictims and Corporations: Legal Challenges and Empirical Findings
Numero di pagine48
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Corporate violence
  • Directive 2012/29/EU (Victims Directive)
  • Notion of victim
  • Protection of victims of corporate violence
  • Recognition of victims of corporate violence
  • Victims of corporate crimes
  • Victims rights in the European Union
  • Vulnerable groups of victims


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