Victims' Rights in Criminal Trials: Prospects for Participation
23 Pages Posted: 21 May 2005
Victims in common law jurisdictions have traditionally been unable to participate in criminal trials for a number of structural and normative reasons. They are widely perceived as 'private parties' whose role should be confined to that of witnesses, and participatory rights for such third parties are rejected as a threat to the objective and public nature of the criminal justice system. However, recent years have witnessed both a major shift in attitude in relation to the role of victims within the criminal justice system and a breakdown in the public/private divide in criminal justice discourse. This article considers the standing of the victim within the criminal trial against the backdrop of such changes, and examines the arguments for a more radical course of reform that would allow victims to participate actively in criminal hearings as they are able to do in many European jurisdictions.
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