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Dr Robyn Holder
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University

Proposals for lawyers to represent victim/witnesses in criminal proceedings fail to ask what good they would do. These also generally fail to grasp the extensive literature critiquing the legal profession – whether as entrepreneurs, as social justice warriors, or as technicians – how they construct the ‘field’ (Bourdieu, 1986), and how they might re-construct it. Which lawyer and what law? This paper considers the development of independent legal representation for victims in international criminal justice and what insights these might provide for domestic jurisdictions. In different post-conflict contexts, the relationship between advocacy nodes and networks and lawyers has emerged as crucial albeit fraught. The formalisation of representation within institutional design has served to both fashion expertise and facilitate authority. These developments suggest that the issue is less whether victims should be legally represented and more about the structure of that representation. What remains is the question of the good lawyers do.

Dr Robyn Holder is Lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and previously a Griffith University Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Her work examines the interface between systems of justice and those who have experienced victimisation and injustice, and the mediating role of rights. Robyn’s current work examines the role of advocacy for victims in international criminal tribunals, the justice goals of child victims, and justice responses to sexual victimisation and domestic abuse. She came to academia with over 20 years’ senior executive experience in public policy, system change, and law reform in Australia and the UK.

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