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Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal




This statement sums up the challenges lawyers, courts, legislatures, and other policymakers face when discussing mediation, reconciliation, or the use of other process alternatives in criminal cases in Central Asia. First, many people in the legal community of Central Asia have different understandings about the types of criminal cases appropriate for referral to alternative processes in lieu of criminal prosecution. Second, many people in the Central Asian legal community have attitudes about victims, defendants, and certain types of crimes that differ significantly from the attitudes held by the legal communities in other countries of the world. For instance, in Central Asia, prosecutors, judges, and other actors in the criminal justice system commonly understand sexual assault and rape as crimes of passion and love, not of violence. In some parts of rural Central Asia it is not uncommon for men to kidnap women to force them into marriage. These attitudes affect the types of cases referred to alternative processes and the inadequate safeguards in place to protect victims of crime, the rights of criminal defendants, and the integrity of these alternative processes.

In evaluating the increased use of alternatives to criminal proceedings throughout Central Asia, scholars and policymakers must understand the different perspectives and attitudes that criminal justice professionals hold towards both particular types of crime and the rights of victims and defendants, and how these perspectives influence their choice of when or how to use alternative processes. The international community must also clearly understand these differences before embarking on any assistance program to support or encourage the increased use of reconciliation or other processes, mistakenly placed in the category of restorative justice processes. However, with or without international assistance, legal professionals in Central Asia increasingly support and use alternative procedures, primarily "reconciliation," in lieu of traditional criminal prosecutions. In recent years Central Asian legislatures passed laws supporting the use of these alternative procedures. Many professionals within the criminal justice system, notably police officers and prosecutors, advocate the increased use of alternatives to prosecution. Yet, the personal and institutional interests of criminal justice professionals in the use of reconciliation directly conflict with the needs and interests of crime victims and criminal defendants. From the perspective of western restorative justice experts, the countries of Central Asia have turned the values of the restorative justice movement on their head reinforcing the weaknesses and abuses of the dysfunctional criminal systems in which the alternative process must operate.

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Pepperdine University School of Law

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