victim – offender mediation


English abstract of Police Journal 2002:

Mediation is an up and coming phenomenon in the Dutch legal system. Court annexed mediation is one of Boelrijk’s official tasks. There are already a number of projects which concern meetings between offenders and victims that have been jointly initiated by the police. In a process known as restorative justice or EchtRecht, offenders and victims meet each other.

Mediation between culprit and victim of intimidation is less well known. Intimidation can arise from teasing, stalking, mobbing, abuse of power, sexual harassment or discrimination. Even when such conflicts lead to criminal acts, mediation can be thought of as an alternative to prosecution or as supplementary to criminal proceedings or as part of a civil claim or support those cases. Such a meeting between offender and victim would be supplementary to, and therefore not a replacement for, other legal sanctions. The victim must be able to judge for themselves whether the meeting with the offender is sufficient for them to come to terms with the offence. Offender and Victim must be clear as to what benefit they can achieve from a renewed confrontation, and they must be able to choose freely whether to take part in mediation or not. In order for the mediation to have a good chance of success, the mediator must not have any goals himself, or try to achieve his own aims when leading the discussion.

The victim benefits from mediation when it helps to heal or minimize the damage that the victim has suffered. This damage can be material, social and emotional results of the crime. The victim can also benefit from being able to relate what consequences of the offence have been, and having the opportunity to ask the offender questions about the reasons, the circumstances and the background of the offence. There can be benefits for the perpetrator of intimidation in the areas of coming to terms with guilt, and achieving a change in behaviour.  If the offender wants to take responsibility for the damage that has been inflicted, then he can best do this face to face with the victim. A meeting also gives him the opportunity to admit guilt to his victim, and to see the results of his act and to make a substantial contribution to repairing the (material, social and emotional) damage. In any case it is useful that those giving help and support to victim or offender are informed about the possibility of having a mediator to lead a meeting between offender and victim.

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