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Liberty Victoria welcomed the opportunity to make this submission in relation to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s (Commission) review of the Role of the Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process (Review).
Central to the Commission’s review is the question: what should the role of the victim be in the criminal trial process? In relation to consideration of this question, the Commission has indicated that it will inform itself with respect to what can be learnt from practice and what can be learnt from theory.
Liberty had the benefit of reading the Commission’s consultation papers and submissions received by the Commission. Our submission was therefore informed by the views put forward by other stakeholders as well as the professional experience of our members practising in the courts.
The Commission put forward three scenarios: the role of the victim is one of a protected witness; the role of the victim is as a participating witness; and the role of the victim is as a prosecuting witness. As the Commission noted, each of these proposals have different reform implications.
The role of victim as a protected witness leads to reforms to protect victims from being subjected to further harm in their role as witness for the prosecution; the role of the victim as a participating witness aims to empower victims by providing avenues for greater participation in prosecutorial and judicial decision-making, and for them to be heard during the trial process; the role of prosecuting witness leads to reforms that aim to give victims some or all of the functions, rights and obligations associated with the role of the prosecutor.
The Commission has completed its report on Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process, and delivered its report to the Attorney-General on 1 September 2016.
The report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament 22 November 2016. Central to the report's 51 recommendations are measures to secure the place of victims as participants in the criminal trial process.
Download the Commission's report (pdf).