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NCJ Number: 201205 Find in a Library
Title: Legal Rules and Safeguards within Belgian Mediation Practices for Juveniles (From Restorative Justice in Context: International Practice and Directions, P 197-207, 2003, Elmar G. M. Weitekamp and Hans-Jurgen Kerner, eds. -- See NCJ-201195)
Author(s): Els Dumortier
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter analyzes ways in which basic procedural safeguards are organized within mediation practices for juveniles in Brussels.
Abstract: A lack of legal rules and standards obliges Belgian Mediation Centers (BAS) to establish their own procedures, rules, and standards. The question is if, in practice, both voluntary acceptance and the avoidance of a Juvenile Judge in the BAS program actually counterbalances the need for legal rules and procedural safeguards for the minors involved. The voluntary acceptance and commitment on the part of the offender and the victim are often stressed, but it seems certain minors in particular participate because they want to avoid prosecution. Instead of avoiding a judge, a widening of the net has taken place: juveniles that are normally left alone by the judicial system now face mediation. In BAS cases, victim-offender mediation often seems to amount to making a financial arrangement. This seems to lead to more restored victims without imposing sanctions on the youngster because the insurance company or the parents intervene in order to restore financially the material damage claimed by the victim. Restorative proportionality remains a difficult problem within mediation practices. Ignorance, poverty, unwilling parents, coercion, and fear of being pursued might encourage young offenders to restore and to work to a greater extent than they think is just. Recently, BAS signed a cooperation agreement with the Bar Association to aid the minor in legal assistance. The question arises whether this right to legal assistance should be an obligation. There is no legal instrument in Belgium that determines whether and to what extent the prosecutor has to take into account the outcome of mediation in cases in which minors are involved. This lack of legal rules creates an inequality between minors, depending on the district they live in. As long as legal rules and rights are not established, restorative experiments will remain vague techniques for responding to criminal behavior committed by youngsters. Vagueness in procedures and definitions has proved in the past to lead to arbitrariness within the practice of the juvenile justice system. 3 notes, 14 references
Main Term(s): Belgium; Restitution
Index Term(s): Foreign juvenile justice systems; Intermediate treatment; Juvenile Delinquent needs assessment methods; Juvenile justice system; Restitution programs; Victim compensation
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