Juvenile Justice: A comparison between the laws of New Zealand and Germany
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Laws
The main objective of this thesis is to make a contribution to the controversial subject of how the German youth justice system could be reformed. In this context, this thesis aims to discover innovative strategies that might be implemented into German youth justice law. As New Zealand's juvenile justice system, which was established under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989, has become the centre of extensive international attention and has already been adopted and adapted by other jurisdictions, this thesis focuses on the question whether parts of New Zealand's legislation could be transplanted into German youth justice law. For these purposes, the method of Comparative Law is employed. Accordingly, New Zealand's and Germany's social, legal, historical and cultural background are briefly outlined and compared. This comparison reveals that an implementation of concepts of New Zealand law into German law would generally be possible. The historical development of distinct youth justice systems in both countries are presented and differences and similarities are compiled. Both countries' current youth justice legislations are then critically examined. This thesis further provides an evaluation of the practical effectiveness of New Zealand's youth justice system. In this regard, this research is exploratory and qualitative, drawing on semi-structured interviews with 10 practitioners working in the field of youth justice. The comparative and qualitative research identified many strengths as well as some weaknesses of the current youth justice system in New Zealand. Consequently, this thesis comes to the conclusion that an implementation of a youth justice forum comparable to New Zealand's Family Group Conference would be expedient and worthwhile from Germany's perspective, but that some aspects of the New Zealand system like police diversion and the formal court orders, cannot or should not be introduced in Germany. Regarding the latter topic, the comparison of both systems revealed that New Zealand might even be inspired by the German option of imposing youth prison sentences on recidivist offenders.