The project analyzes the use of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for cases of honor-based violence in the United Kindgdom and Norway and aims at answering the following questions: What are the rights and principles of Western (criminal) justice systems that are threatened by a logic of honor and by the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in such cases? How do these programs work? Do they infringe the mentioned rights and principles?
Status of project: Completed Department: Criminology Project duration: Project start: 2013
Project end: 2019
So-called “honor-based violence” and forced marriages are seemingly on the increase in European countries. Victims tend to come from certain immigrant communities, some are young women from second or third generation migrants struggling between the culture of their family and that of the host society. Victims are reluctant to resort to police and the justice system as a consequence of family ties and community pressure and are unwilling or unable to invoke outside support. They fall either back on traditional mediation and dispute resolution procedures operational in some immigrant communities or are exposed to the risks of unshielded confrontation. National and international bodies and organizations have called for protecting victims from traditional dispute resolution procedures as these are alleged to prevent access to justice and effective relief from victimizing pressure, coercion and the threat of violence and reflect power imbalance, gender inequality and a collective conscience which conflicts with values of societies which are based on individual autonomy and individualization. Two case studies will serve to elaborate and test hypotheses on how to approach best the problems described above. The first case study addresses Norway. The Norwegian restorative justice agency (Konfliktrådet) together with other Scandinavian countries, has started employing restorative justice (mainly in the form of cross-cultural transformative mediation) to bring together victims and their families and to discuss the rights, values, and traditions at stake. The second case study deals with the situation in the United Kingdom. Here, we do not find programs offered (and backed up) by the state, but communities which organize themselves through NGOs, informal tribunals, religious and cultural leaders, or informal mediators and arbitrators. On the basis of the case studies, the project seeks answers to the question of which normative conflicts in terms of substance and procedure emerge in the confrontation between Western approaches and traditional dispute proceedings based on collective values (honor). Research will elaborate on how and to what effects alternative programs work and what interactions with formal justice systems occur.
Preliminary results show relevant differences in the functioning of formal and informal programs and a different way of interacting with the criminal justice system. Attention was paid to the risk assessment phase and the training of practitioners (especially mediators). The protection of victims' rights is at the center of both formal and informal programs, however a certain degree of compromise is necessarily involved.