Victims: needs, rights and justice

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It is now 30 years since the United Nations (UN) Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power 40/34 29 November 1985 (henceforth the UN Declaration). That declaration ‘advocates compassionate and respectful treatment of victims by the police, prosecutors, and courts, with emphasis placed on providing victims with information, assistance and compensation’ (Mawby and Walklate 1994, p. 89). This declaration marked the culmination of pressure from the World Society of Victimology and key players within the UN (for a more detailed account of the processes underlying this declaration, see Joutsen 1987). Taken alongside further recommendations from the Council of Europe, the mid-1980s marked a significant moment in the recognition of the impact of crime. Since then demand for recognizing this impact has grown apace. This demand has made its presence increasingly felt as the human rights discourse has tightened its grip in both international and domestic arenas. Consequently, opportunities for the recognition of victims’ voices have been afforded in not only domestic and regional criminal justice settings but also internationally. These range from the adoption of victim impact statements in a number of different jurisdictions to the development of, for example, the International Criminal Court, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and strategies embracing notions of transitional justice in which victim recognition is claimed to be a key feature of their rationale. Yet, as we shall see, what comprises such recognition is contested with the distance between victims’ lived experiences and the political and policy rhetoric about such recognition remaining stubbornly persistent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook on of Criminology and Human Rights
EditorsLeanne Webber, Elaine Fishwick, Marinella Marmo
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781315679891
ISBN (Print)9781138931176
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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