Empowered or protected?
In the mid-2000s, Danish and Norwegian criminal procedural law underwent legislative amendments to strengthen the rights of complainants in cases of sexual violence and other cases of serious violations. While in Norway complainants were afforded participatory rights and stronger legal representation in court, this was largely not the case in Denmark. The aim of this chapter is to identify how the ‘problem’ of complainants’ increased participatory rights and stronger legal representation is represented in these policy processes. The findings suggest that the Norwegian policy process was characterised by the use of domestic, international, legal and extra-legal sources, while the Danish policy process was largely based on domestic legal sources. In the Norwegian preparatory works, complainants are represented as citizens in need of empowerment through increased rights. Affording complainants increased participatory rights and stronger legal representation is also construed as ensuring the rule of law. In the Danish preparatory works, by contrast, the dominant representation of the complainant is rooted in the notion of victimhood. This representation is shaped by a protection discourse whereby the complainant is protected from the possibly harmful consequences of having rights. Not affording complainants increased participatory rights and stronger legal representation is further construed as preserving the rule of law.