VICTIM-IMPACT STATEMENTS AT THE SENTENCING STAGE: GIVING CRIME VICTIMS A VOICE
Keywords:crime victim, victim-impact statements, sentencing of offenders
The principle of proportionality seeks to limit, as far as possible, arbitrary punishment, and to achieve a balance by requiring courts to consider the sometimes competing interests of the state and the accused person. These competing interests have a missing link – the interests of the crime victim. Unless all relevant information is placed before court, including that of crime victims, the court will not arrive at a just punishment. There can be justice only when the interests of not only the offender and the state, but of the victim as well, are considered and balanced against one another. The introduction of victim-impact statements is one of the means by which the said balance may be achieved. Some of the established democracies have recognized the value of introducing victim-impact statements before the sentencing of offenders: South Africa might do well to follow in their footsteps. I believe that the use of these
statements at appropriate stages of the trial would contribute to positive public perceptions about our criminal-justice system, and promote victim satisfaction with the criminal justice which is perceived by some to be heavily biased in favour of accused persons.
This paper seeks to highlight the plight of the crime victim within South Africa’s criminal-justice system, and to add a voice to calls for the introduction of victim-impact statements during the sentencing stage in a criminal trial.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.