The third day of the Asia-Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice’s Second Meeting concentrated on restorative justice and the good practices that favour its implementation, and then featured the last capacity-building session before the policy-oriented day of the meeting.
Ms Margaret Akullo, Programme Coordinator at UNODC, welcomed participants and introduced the Keynote speaker: Honorable Justice Kanade, Head of the Juvenile Justice Committee of Maharashtra of India.
Justice Kanade addressed the fundamental principles that animate dialogue between victim, offender and the community in the framework of restorative processes. He underlined how restoration is designed to become a healing process for these three key stakeholders. Then Justice Kanade presented the child-friendly approach in the Indian juvenile justice system, and the current challenges triggered by recent instances of violent crimes against children.
The first plenary session saw the participation of Mario Hemmerling, an expert in juvenile justice from UNODC, and Ann-Kristin Vervik, from the office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children (SRSG).
Mr. Hemmerling presented the theoretical and legal background to the implementation of restorative justice, and analysed the different benefits of the restorative process, in particular its value for effective inclusion. He concluded by highlighting some examples of good practices.
Ms. Ann-Kristin Vervik presented the SRSG’s Report, ‘Promoting Restorative Justice for Children’, and she illustrated to the audience the Norwegian model of restorative justice measures and the different procedures that can be applied.
The second plenary session concentrated on promising practices in the field of restorative justice. Ms Maria Catalina Gonzalez Moreno, of the Directorate of Justice and Security from Colombia’s National Department of Planning, presented the Colombian model, offering an interesting opportunity for exchange between different regions, comparison and mutual learning for the Asia-Pacific Council.
In particular, she outlined the challenges that the government face in the promotion of alternative measures and finding a balance between protecting the rights of victims and the community, as well as those of the offender. In this light, she emphasized the importance of investing in specialised capacity building of key actors, and prevention policies, thanking the IJJO for its technical assistance in the implementation phase.
Following on from this, Judge Chanthaly Douangvilay, of Lao’s Supreme Court, presented the example of the ‘Village Mediation Unit’. If the child freely admits to the crime, and the victim agrees to a dialogue, the Village Mediation Unit offers the opportunity to provide reparation without entering formal criminal proceedings.
Mr. Wing-Cheong Chang, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore, introduced the decreasing crime rates of Singapore over the last decade, and explained the role played by restorative justice in the process. In particular, he analysed the process of family conferencing and its implications.
Finally, Ms. Le Thi Hoa, the Vice Head of the Criminal Law Division, Department for Criminal Justice of the Ministry of Vietnam, analysed the difficulties of promoting a restorative approach when very serious cases can influence public opinion in favour of a punitive attitude. She therefore underlined the importance of effective data collection, in order to provide concrete arguments that help foster advocacy in favour of a restorative approach.
In the afternoon, Doctor Geeta Sekhon introduced the last capacity-building session. Participants engaged in a general discussion, in which representatives from all the countries involved took part to discuss how to foster implementation and policy making to favour restorative justice. Afterwards, Doctor Sekhon led a role play exercise with the participants, illustrating the dynamics of a mediation exercise.