A study visit to Austria

01 May 2009

A study visit to Austria was realised on 20-24 April 2009 as part of UNDP and the Ministry of Justice’s joint initiative on Mediation in the Criminal Justice System of Turkey.

Yeni Ufuklar - The tour aimed to support the Ministry of Justice’s efforts towards the improvement of restorative justice and victim offender mediation (VOM) practices by comparing the different practices in Turkey and in Austria.  

Ten participants from the Ministry of Justice comprising of provincial and ministerial judges and prosecutors, the Vice Rector of Gazi University Mr. Cumhur Sahin, the Dean of the Istanbul University's Faculty of Law Mr. Adem Sozer, and two UNDP representatives took part in the study tour.

The programme agenda included meetings with the representatives of the Austrian Ministry of Justice to develop alternative methods of dispute resolution in criminal justice and interviews with practitioners of mediation in criminal cases in Austria. 

The participants were given the opportunity to gain an overview on the practical application of diversion and the positive effects of mediation as one of the methods of diversion in Austrian justice system from notable Austrian legal authorities such as the General Director of Criminal Affairs Dr. Wolfgang Bogensberger and Dr. Werner Pleischl, the chief prosecutor of upper Vienna state, who introduced the system of mediation in criminal justice in 1980s. 

The study visit further constituted of observation of activities in the field of restorative justice and community sanctions, different methods of mediation and trainings provided for mediators through meetings with the representatives of Neustart, Austria’s legal institution where all mediation cases are transferred. The meetings outlined ways in which Turkey could apply Austrian methods on mediation in general, and the activities of Neustart in particular, to its own practices of mediation in criminal cases.

Justice actors who are the main authorities promoting victim-offender mediation practices in their respective courthouses were highly satisfied with the outcomes of the visitwhere important inputs for the project were generated and practice related challenges were debated extensively.