Source: (2013) Restorative Justice: An International Journal. 1(3):334-361.

In academic discourse as well as in international legislation on restorative justice, three principles are commonly regarded as indispensable to high-quality restorative practices such as victim-offender mediation, conferencing and circles. These are the principles of voluntary participation, the impartiality of the facilitator and the confidentiality of the restorative process. Yet these principles have remained relatively theoretical; little is known about how they are perceived by the participants in these practices. This paper presents the results of a study on victim-offender mediation in Flanders, Belgium, with a view to filling this void. In-depth interviews with victims and perpetrators of various crimes who participated in victim-offender mediation gave an insight into mediation participants' understanding of these principles and their significance for victims' and offenders' satisfaction with the mediation process. Results show that whereas the participants unequivocally supported the principles of voluntariness and impartiality, the principle of confidentiality at times caused dissatisfaction and frustration. (author's abstract)