Source: (2003) In, Elmar Weitekamp and Hans-Jurgen Kerner, eds. Restorative Justice in Context: International Practice and Directions.Devon, UK and Portland Oregon: Willan Publishing. Pp.197-207.

A lack of legal rules and standards obliges Belgian Mediation Centers (BAS) to establish their own procedures, rules, and standards. The question is if, in practice, both voluntary acceptance and the avoidance of a Juvenile Judge in the BAS program actually counterbalances the need for legal rules and procedural safeguards for the minors involved. The voluntary acceptance and commitment on the part of the offender and the victim are often stressed, but it seems certain minors in particular participate because they want to avoid prosecution. Instead of avoiding a judge, a widening of the net has taken place: juveniles that are normally left alone by the judicial system now face mediation. In BAS cases, victim-offender mediation often seems to amount to making a financial arrangement. This seems to lead to more restored victims without imposing sanctions on the youngster because the insurance company or the parents intervene in order to restore financially the material damage claimed by the victim. Restorative proportionality remains a difficult problem within mediation practices. Ignorance, poverty, unwilling parents, coercion, and fear of being pursued might encourage young offenders to restore and to work to a greater extent than they think is just. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,