Source: (2001) In Victim policies and criminal justice on the road to restorative justice: Essays in honour of Tony Peters, ed. E. Fattah and S. Parmentier, 167-209. With an introduction by E. Fattah and S. Parmentier. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Frieder Dunkel begins his essay by tracing some current trends in politics and criminal justice that raise certain issues. In recent decades there has been increased attention to the rights and needs of victims in the criminal justice process. At the same time, and in part coupled with the emphasis on victims, there has been growing demand for more severe punitive measures against offenders. Dunkel characterizes these trends in terms of a shift from an offender-related to a victim-related criminal justice system. While this is beneficial to victims in many ways, certain issues arise. The expansion of victims’ rights could lead to the withdrawal of the state and hence the “privatizationâ€? of criminal law, which might not necessarily benefit victims. Also, for example, questions about mediation programs have raised issues concerning the constitutionality of the procedure, and legal and moral issues relating to compulsion and choice for victims and offenders in participating in mediation. In view of this, Dunkel argues for an approach that conserves the constitutional principles that have developed in current criminal law and procedure, but that also strengthens victims’ interests with respect to compensation and the reconciliatory, conflict-solving dimension of criminal law.