1 November 2013
Giving vengeance a voice in court
"A criminal trial should be a cool-headed assessment of evidence, not a chance for victims to vent their distress.
It is hard to remember a reform to the UK’s criminal-justice system which was not geared towards giving victims a ‘voice’ or ‘presence’ in the courtroom. This week, yet another victim-centred reform was announced, one which would allow for victim-impact statements to be read out in court by victims or their relatives. Victim’s minister Dominic Green said that the reforms would ‘give victims a real say in proceedings’."
"A victim’s emotions have no place in the criminal court. While we can, as human beings, acknowledge and pay due deference to the hardship of a criminal trial, particularly for the victims of the crimes under consideration, we must keep the central purpose of this ancient social ritual at the forefront of our minds. We cannot allow a victim-centred approach to justice to turn our courtrooms from the hopefully objective and impartial arbiters of the social will, into the organs of state-sanctioned revenge."