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Giving victims a voice: On the problems of introducing victim impact statements in German criminal procedure.

Braun, Kerstin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) German Law Journal. 14(9): 1819-1908.

Over the course of the last decade, however, scholars, including Wemmers, have started to
address the absence of VIS schemes in inquisitorial criminal justice systems and begun to
contemplate whether they could be beneficial to victims in these systems.9 In the context
of Germany’s inquisitorial system, Marlene Hanloser has suggested the introduction of VIS
schemes in criminal trials in order to grant all victims the right to be heard by making
statements on how the crime has affected them.10 Against the backdrop of this scholarly
debate, this paper analyzes whether and for whom the introduction of VIS schemes in
Germany could be valuable. In assessing the suitability of VIS schemes in the German
context, this paper focuses on the alleged benefits for victims and the potential risks for
defendants’ rights. The remainder of this paper is structured into four parts.
Part B analyzes how VIS schemes operate in Australian jurisdictions. This part subsequently
considers the possibilities for victim participation in the structures of the adversarial
criminal justice system in general and contends that victim participation in adversarial
systems without the violation of defendants’ rights is possible only to a limited extent.
Part C determines that the structure of the German inquisitorial system generally permits
victim participation at trial to a greater extent than the structure of the adversarial system.
This part subsequently identifies that while some victims have been granted ample
opportunities to present views and concerns in German criminal trials, other victims have
no explicit right to do so. These victims could potentially benefit from the introduction of
VIS schemes enabling them to present information to the court about how the crime has
affected them if they so desire. (excerpt)


AbstractCourtsEuropePost-Conflict ReconciliationPrisonsRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationVictim Support
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