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The Role of the Victim in the Criminal Process – A Paradigm Shift in National German and International Law?

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The respect for the situation of victims of crime has risen immensely over the last couple of decades. Consequently the importance of the victim at trial has changed radically. First, the victim deserves protection from secondary victimisation in the course of prosecution; secondly, the victim is attributed a more active role compared to the mere role as a witness for the prosecution. The traditional idea of a "public" prosecution, whereby the prosecutor as a state official mediates the victim, is considerably challenged if the victim acts as a "private" prosecutor. The article analyses recent developments both in German and international criminal procedural law concerning "victim participation" and contrasts this development with the interests and expectations voiced by victims of crime. It is held that criminal procedure should not be overburdened with unrealistic expectations as contributing to an overall healing process and stay focused on its main aim: determining the guilt of the alleged offender.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany


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