Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Trailblazing victims’ rights as human rights: the quest for clarity

Seminar presented by the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner in association with the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian National University, ACT Legislative Assembly reception room,
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM 16 May 2011

Dr Helen Watchirs, ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner—Introductory Remarks
Dr Jonathan Doak, Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom)—Keynote Speaker

Presentation overview

Victims’ rights are rapidly becoming recognised as human rights on the international platform. Although many such international standards lack binding authority, their recent promulgation carries direct ramifications for the ways in which lawmakers and policymakers respond to the needs of victims in the criminal justice system. For too long, the rights of crime victims has fallen outside the remit of the formal legal system and such rights tend to be proclaimed in the form of policy statements, protocols, charters, manifestos and circulars. If the state is serious about protecting victims’ rights as human rights, ultimately they need to be entrenched in statute and public bodies must be prepared to face sanctions for non-compliance. In the longer term - if such rights do come to bear legal teeth - it is questionable whether the structures, processes and values of the common law adversarial system can be sustained.

Dr Jonathan Doak

Dr Jonathan Doak is a Reader in Law at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University (UK) where he is also Director of the Criminal Justice Research Group.  He has published widely in the fields of victimology, restorative justice and criminal evidence. He has a particular interest in the influence of international trends and human rights discourse upon the development of criminal justice law and policy in common law jurisdictions.  Dr Doak will speak on the implications for domestic criminal justice of the rapidly expanding recognition of victims’ rights as human rights at an international level.