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UNODC — Handbook on RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAMMES

UNODC — Handbook on RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAMMES

Restora­tive jus­tice is a flex­i­ble, par­tic­i­pa­to­ry and prob­lem-solv­ing response to crim­i­nal behav­iour, which can pro­vide a com­ple­men­tary or an alter­na­tive path to jus­tice. It can improve access to jus­tice, par­tic­u­lar­ly for vic­tims of crime and vul­ner­a­ble and mar­gin­al­ized pop­u­la­tions, includ­ing in tran­si­tion­al jus­tice con­texts. Restora­tive jus­tice has a great poten­tial to con­tribute to the achieve­ment of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goal (SDG) 16 on pro­vid­ing access to jus­tice for all and build­ing effec­tive, account­able and inclu­sive insti­tu­tions at all levels.

Restora­tive jus­tice is an approach that offers offend­ers, vic­tims and the com­mu­ni­ty an alter­na­tive path­way to jus­tice. It pro­motes the safe par­tic­i­pa­tion of vic­tims in resolv­ing the sit­u­a­tion and offers peo­ple who accept respon­si­bil­i­ty for the harm caused by their actions an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make them­selves account­able to those they have harmed. It is based on the recog­ni­tion that crim­i­nal behav­iour not only vio­lates the law, but also harms vic­tims and the com­mu­ni­ty. The lit­er­a­ture offers many dif­fer­ent def­i­n­i­tions of restora­tive jus­tice. This is due to the diverse and evolv­ing nature of restora­tive jus­tice approach­es around the world. Some def­i­n­i­tions place the empha­sis on the par­tic­i­pa­to­ry aspect of the process and on encoun­ters and active par­tic­i­pa­tion through dia­logue. Oth­ers stress restora­tive out­comes such as repa­ra­tion, vic­tim recov­ery and offend­er rein­te­gra­tion. How­ev­er, most def­i­n­i­tions agree on the fol­low­ing elements:

• A focus on the harm caused by crim­i­nal behaviour

• Vol­un­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion by those most affect­ed by the harm, includ­ing the vic­tim, the per­pe­tra­tor and, in some process­es and prac­tices, their sup­port­ers or fam­i­ly mem­bers, mem­bers of a com­mu­ni­ty of inter­est and appro­pri­ate professionals

• Prepa­ra­tion of the par­ties and facil­i­ta­tion of the process by trained restora­tive practitioners

• Dia­logue between the par­ties to arrive at a mutu­al under­stand­ing of what hap­pened and its con­se­quences and an agree­ment on what should be done

• Out­comes of the restora­tive process vary and may include an expres­sion of remorse and acknowl­edge­ment of respon­si­bil­i­ty by the per­pe­tra­tor and a com­mit­ment to do some repar­a­tive action for the vic­tim or for the community

• An offer of sup­port to the vic­tim to aid recov­ery and to the per­pe­tra­tor to aid rein­te­gra­tion and desis­tance from fur­ther acts of harm

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