Reconciling Due Process and Victims' Rights: Towards a Power Balance Model of Criminal Process in International Human Rights Law
University of Notre Dame Law School
January 19, 2009
Michigan Journal of International Law, Forthcoming
Traditionally, human rights law used to be concerned almost exclusively with the rights of criminal defendants. This article argues that international human rights law has recently developed an extensive case-law protecting victims' rights which has become incompatible with this traditional orientation. The article argues that the underlying model of criminal process in international human rights law has shifted from the due process model to the punitive victims' rights model. The article traces these developments to the recent predominance of victims' rights in a number of Western nations and the challenge of impunity for grave human rights violations in Latin America. The article argues that such developments are dangerous to the overall mission of international human rights law. The article then urges that human rights law must develop a model of criminal process that would be compatible with both due process values and the protection of victims' rights. As a way of addressing this challenge, a power balance model of criminal process is proposed. The underlying value of the model is the prevention of excessive disbalances of power in the criminal justice system. Such disbalances exist not only between the state and the individual accused, in ordinary criminal cases, but also between the state and the victim, where the accused is a state official. The model seeks not only to prevent such disbalances by upholding traditional due process constraints on prosecution in common crime cases but also to create institutional incentives to prosecution in cases involving state officials.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 82
Keywords: human rights, victims' rights, due process model, criminal law, criminal process, criminal justice, power balance, European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
JEL Classification: K33, K14
Date posted: January 23, 2009 ; Last revised: April 15, 2009
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