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Right to Counsel for Injured Party - A Comparative Study of Sexual Assault Victims' Rights in Sweden, Arizona & Massachusetts

Carlsson, Johanna LU (2010) JURM01 20101
Department of Law
Abstract
Since the late 1980s when the Counsel for Injured Party Act (1988:609) was introduced, Swedish victims of sexual assault have had the right to a special legal counsel in the form of a government funded counsel for injured party. The underlying idea behind the Act was that sexually assaulted women are in need of extra support and assistance through the legal proceedings, especially during the preliminary investigation and the following trial. Several studies have shown that many sexual assaults are never reported to the legal authorities, and if they are reported many crimes are not prosecuted since the victims do not have the strength to carry on with the legal proceedings. This is a problem that both the Swedish judicial system and the... (More)
Since the late 1980s when the Counsel for Injured Party Act (1988:609) was introduced, Swedish victims of sexual assault have had the right to a special legal counsel in the form of a government funded counsel for injured party. The underlying idea behind the Act was that sexually assaulted women are in need of extra support and assistance through the legal proceedings, especially during the preliminary investigation and the following trial. Several studies have shown that many sexual assaults are never reported to the legal authorities, and if they are reported many crimes are not prosecuted since the victims do not have the strength to carry on with the legal proceedings. This is a problem that both the Swedish judicial system and the judicial systems in the United States struggle with and are trying to solve.

Sexual assault, particularly the crime rape, is recognized as a sever offence to the victim’s integrity that may result in horrifying physical and psychological consequences for the victimized person. Through history, sexual assault has been seen as a natural outcome and by-product of warfare. The view of sexual assault has, however, changed. Recent history has showed that sexual assault is being utilized as an effective and inhuman weapon to battle enemies. Today, the international community recognizes the crime rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity under international humanitarian law.

This thesis is a comparative study of the judicial systems and legal proceedings in Sweden and in the United States. It is also a comparative study of the rights provided to victims of sexual assault in these two countries. The aim of the thesis is to examine if, and if so to what extent victims of sexual assault are provided with legal counsels in the legal proceedings in Sweden and in the United States. In order to examine this, the thesis studies and analyses what rights sexually assaulted victims have in the Swedish legal system, the intent behind the Counsel for Injured Party Act and what the Act means for victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, the thesis examines what rights the federal judicial system in the United States provides to victims of sexual assault as well as what rights are provided to them at a state level, exemplified by the state of Arizona and the state of Massachusetts.

Although the work with this thesis has shown that crime victims’ rights in Sweden and in the United States have developed over the years, there are still things that need to be done and that need to be improved. The Swedish Counsel for Injured Party Act needs to be more effective and more far-reaching to fully support all victims of sexual assault in the legal proceedings. In the United States, neither the federal government nor the state governments provide sexual assault victims with the legal counsels that they so desperately need in relation to the legal proceedings. In a modern society this cannot be acceptable and something needs to change. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Sedan slutet av 1980-talet då Lagen om målsägandebiträde (1988:609) introducerades har svenska sexualbrottsoffer haft rätt till ett särskilt juridiskt biträde i form av det statligt finansierade målsägandebiträdet. Den bakomliggande idén till lagens införande var att kvinnor som utsatts för sexuella övergrepp är i behov av extra stöd och hjälp genom det straffrättsliga förfarandet, särskilt under förundersökningen och den efterföljande rättegången. Ett flertal studier har visat att många av de sexuella övergrepp som begås aldrig anmäls till myndigheterna. Om övergreppen trots allt anmäls så leder många av fallen inte till åtal eller dom, då offren inte orkar fortsätta processen. Detta är ett problem som både det svenska och det amerikanska... (More)
Sedan slutet av 1980-talet då Lagen om målsägandebiträde (1988:609) introducerades har svenska sexualbrottsoffer haft rätt till ett särskilt juridiskt biträde i form av det statligt finansierade målsägandebiträdet. Den bakomliggande idén till lagens införande var att kvinnor som utsatts för sexuella övergrepp är i behov av extra stöd och hjälp genom det straffrättsliga förfarandet, särskilt under förundersökningen och den efterföljande rättegången. Ett flertal studier har visat att många av de sexuella övergrepp som begås aldrig anmäls till myndigheterna. Om övergreppen trots allt anmäls så leder många av fallen inte till åtal eller dom, då offren inte orkar fortsätta processen. Detta är ett problem som både det svenska och det amerikanska rättssystemet brottas med och försöker att lösa.

Sexuella övergrepp, särskilt våldtäktsbrottet, är ett allvarligt intrång i offrets integritet och kan resultera i fruktansvärda fysiska och psykologiska konsekvenser för offret. Genom historien har sexuella övergrepp setts som en naturlig följd av krigsföring, men synen på dessa övergrepp har dock kommit att förändras. Nutida händelser har visat att sexuella övergrepp används som ett effektivt och brutalt vapen i väpnade konflikter och idag betraktar det internationella samfundet våldtäkt som en krigsförbrytelse och som ett brott mot mänskligheten enligt internationell folkrätt.

Denna uppsats är en komparativ studie av rättssystemen och straffrättsförfarandena i Sverige och i USA. Det är även en komparativ studie av de rättigheter som tillerkänns sexualbrottsoffer i dessa två länder. Målet med uppsatsen är att undersöka om och i så fall i vilken utsträckning som sexualbrottsoffer ges rätt till juridisk assistans genom biträden i det straffrättsliga förfarandet i Sverige och i USA. För att undersöka detta studerar och analyserar uppsatsen de rättigheter som sexualbrottsoffer ges i det svenska rättsystemet. Uppsatsen utreder också de avsikter som fanns då Lagen om målsägandebiträde infördes och vad lagen i sig innebär för offer som utsatts för sexuella övergrepp. Utöver detta undersöker uppsatsen de rättigheter som det amerikanska federala rättsväsendet tillhandahåller sexualbrottsoffer samt de rättigheter som tillhandahålls offer på delstatsnivå, exemplifierat genom delstaterna Arizona och Massachusetts.

Trots att arbetet med denna uppsats tydligt har visat att sexualbrottsoffrens rättigheter i Sverige och USA har utvecklats genom åren, så finns det fortfarande åtgärder som behöver vidtas och saker som bör förbättras. Den svenska Lagen om målsägandebiträde behöver bli mer effektiv och långtgående för att till fullo tillgodose alla sexualbrottsoffers behov av stöd. I USA tillhandahåller varken det federala rättsystemet eller rättssystemen i Arizona och Massachusetts en rätt till statligt finansierade biträden för sexualbrottsoffer, en rätt som de så väl behöver i det straffrättsliga förfarandet. I ett modernt samhälle kan inte detta anses acceptabelt och en förändring bör därför ske. (Less)
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author
Carlsson, Johanna LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM01 20101
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Straffrätt
language
English
id
1628195
date added to LUP
2010-07-14 15:36:18
date last changed
2010-07-14 15:36:18
@misc{1628195,
  abstract     = {Since the late 1980s when the Counsel for Injured Party Act (1988:609) was introduced, Swedish victims of sexual assault have had the right to a special legal counsel in the form of a government funded counsel for injured party. The underlying idea behind the Act was that sexually assaulted women are in need of extra support and assistance through the legal proceedings, especially during the preliminary investigation and the following trial. Several studies have shown that many sexual assaults are never reported to the legal authorities, and if they are reported many crimes are not prosecuted since the victims do not have the strength to carry on with the legal proceedings. This is a problem that both the Swedish judicial system and the judicial systems in the United States struggle with and are trying to solve.

Sexual assault, particularly the crime rape, is recognized as a sever offence to the victim’s integrity that may result in horrifying physical and psychological consequences for the victimized person. Through history, sexual assault has been seen as a natural outcome and by-product of warfare. The view of sexual assault has, however, changed. Recent history has showed that sexual assault is being utilized as an effective and inhuman weapon to battle enemies. Today, the international community recognizes the crime rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity under international humanitarian law. 

This thesis is a comparative study of the judicial systems and legal proceedings in Sweden and in the United States. It is also a comparative study of the rights provided to victims of sexual assault in these two countries. The aim of the thesis is to examine if, and if so to what extent victims of sexual assault are provided with legal counsels in the legal proceedings in Sweden and in the United States. In order to examine this, the thesis studies and analyses what rights sexually assaulted victims have in the Swedish legal system, the intent behind the Counsel for Injured Party Act and what the Act means for victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, the thesis examines what rights the federal judicial system in the United States provides to victims of sexual assault as well as what rights are provided to them at a state level, exemplified by the state of Arizona and the state of Massachusetts.

Although the work with this thesis has shown that crime victims’ rights in Sweden and in the United States have developed over the years, there are still things that need to be done and that need to be improved. The Swedish Counsel for Injured Party Act needs to be more effective and more far-reaching to fully support all victims of sexual assault in the legal proceedings. In the United States, neither the federal government nor the state governments provide sexual assault victims with the legal counsels that they so desperately need in relation to the legal proceedings. In a modern society this cannot be acceptable and something needs to change.},
  author       = {Carlsson, Johanna},
  keyword      = {Straffrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Right to Counsel for Injured Party - A Comparative Study of Sexual Assault Victims' Rights in Sweden, Arizona & Massachusetts},
  year         = {2010},
}