News from Leuven

The past weeks have been quite busy for the EFRJ staff based in Leuven!

On 9-16 October, the EFRJ organised the training course ‘Restorative ME‘ under the Erasmus+ programme. The event brought together young professionals from seven European countries (Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Macedonia, Italy, Romania, Spain). Find here more info about the programme, including the detailed infopack with the activities. On the Facebook page of ‘Restorative ME’ you can find pictures and updates from organisers and participants.

On 11 October these young professionals visited the secretariat of the EFRJ, presented by our new director, Edit Törzs. They also attended a series of mini-lectures at the KU Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC). The presenters, all part of the Research Line on RJ and Victimology, have all a past with the EFRJ, either as staff or Board members, or both (Prof. Ivo Aertsen, Monique Anderson, Katrien Lauwaert, Brunilda Pali, Inge Vanfraechem).

On 12 October participants attended a session on the use of RJ practices in broader conflicts. On this occasion, the team of the recently finished ALTERNATIVE presented the findings and some films produced during this four-year research project on RJ in intercultural settings. In this context, participants have been asked also to be creative and share their own personal stories on justice and security. Some of the stories will be published online as part of the international RJ WEEK 2016.

On 13 October, Brunilda Pali and Emanuela Biffi got together for an initiative launched by KU Leuven on arts and sciences. Since the main theme was ‘Chaos’, they briefly presented RJ in comparison to the criminal justice system (apparently more chaotic vs. more ordered systems) to a group of artists from the art academy in Leuven. Inded, the so-called PiLoT project aims at inspiring artists who have to create an artwork within their discipline by the end of the academic year. Such artwork will be the result of a collaboration between artists and scientists, maybe also about RJ.

On 17 October the EFRJ staff welcomed a delegation of Argentinian judges visiting the KU LINC. Edit Törzs gave a general presentation about the EFRJ mission, structure and projects. Emanuela Biffi presented the recently finished projects ‘Accessibility and Initiation of RJ‘, ‘ALTERNATIVE‘ on RJ in intercultural settings and the RJ WEEK 2016 on Arts, Justice and Storytelling. Former staff members of the EFRJ, Monique Anderson and Katrien Lauwaert from KU LINC, presented respectively the European model of restorative juvenile justice and the findings of the project ‘Desistance and RJ‘.

On the same evening, we all attended the public defense of Brunilda Pali’s PhD on RJ in intercultural settings, partly based on the findings of the ALTERNATIVE project. Congratulations to Doctor Pali for this inspiring and warm evening together.

Finally, on 21 October the EFRJ staff attended the debate ‘Prison criticism: urgency to deconstruct and new momentum‘ in Brussels. This was part of the Festival of Freedoms which takes place every year in the city. Among the speakers, Manon Juszczak talked about the action-theatre project with juvenile offenders (‘Promenades’) and the importance of alternative practices, such as RJ, to support the reintegration of prisoners in our communities. Clearly, on this occasion the focus remained on prisoners and little attention has been given to victims, but it was a good occasion for raising awareness about RJ to the wider public.