Source: (2009) Criminal Law Forum. 20(4):395-416.

Historically, victims once had an active participatory role in the criminal justice process and were responsible for not only initiating but also for prosecuting offenders. In common law countries, victims were gradually sidelined and by the 20th century, their role was reduced to that of a witness to a crime against the state. The exclusion of victims from the criminal justice process is a major source of dissatisfaction for victims as many of them want to participate in the criminal justice process. This has fuelled initiatives with restorative justice that claim to more fully include victims than conventional criminal justice. This paper examines three different approaches found in the literature on how to let victims participate. One view is that victims should leave the criminal justice system and that criminal justice should be replaced by alternative, restorative justice schemes in which victims are granted full recognition and respect for their dignity. A second approach is to integrate restorative practices such as victim-offender mediation in the criminal justice process. The third approach is to integrate victim participation and respect (so-called restorative values) in the criminal justice system. These three approaches are discussed and compared with one another. The paper closes with recommendations for criminal law reform. (author's abstract)