Victims and restorative justice
Although restorative justice puts victims and offenders at the heart of the response to crime, concerns are voiced about the position of victims in restorative justice practices. The European Forum for Restorative Justice is the promoter in a research project on the needs, experiences and position of victims in restorative justice. Preliminary results of this research were presented.
Offenders and restorative justice
When it comes to offenders and restorative justice, a first focus often lies with recidivism but broader issues are at stake such as offender rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
The Community and restorative justice
As restorative justice develops, we see more ways of how it can progress to include more meaningful participation by the community, for example through different forms of conferencing and circles. Furthermore, more areas within the community can be distinguished where restorative justice practices can be used to great effect in schools and the workplace, for example.
During the conference, some professors and researchers have been interviewed to give their definition of restorative justice and/or to give their opinion about the development and future of restorative justice:
The Sixth Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice: ’Doing Restorative Justice in Europe. Established Practices and Innovative Programmes’ intended to focus firstly on providing an opportunity for displaying and discussing the width and breadth of practices and methods used throughout the continent and secondly on the developments in the field of conferencing as one of the more innovative restorative justice practices.
A substantial part of the conference was devoted to the AGIS project “Restorative justice: an agenda for Europe”. Next to presenting and discussing the difficulties encountered in Southern Europe to consolidate the implementation of restorative justice and their possible answers, the need and possibilities for further regulation and action in this field on behalf of the European Union were discussed.
The fourth conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ); "Restorative Justice and Beyond – an Agenda for Europe", intended to broaden the perspective on restorative justice whilst retaining the core topic of ‘justice’. In this conference the EFRJ, for the first time, explored in detail what lies beyond the ‘classical’ application of restorative justice.
- restorative justice, peace-making and peace-building;
- community mediation, working towards justice in a broad sense – beyond the intervention of criminal law agencies;
- dealing with more severe crimes in a restorative way: exploring the place for restorative justice programmes that are not restricted to pre-trial diversion of petty offences;
- the school mediation movement is increasingly widespread, attempting to handle conflicts beyond – or rather before – the law according to the same principles as restorative justice, and beyond the traditional offender orientation that marks the criminal justice system;
- good practice for restorative justice, which is vital to establish a solid basis for the new approach to justice.
The conference mainly looked at the consequences of the increased implementation of restorative justice. Indeed, restorative justice is becoming fashionable with politicians and the criminal justice system in several European countries. Why has it suddenly attracted so much interest? Should we welcome it or treat it with caution? Are there specific societal factors that favour restorative justice? The conference reviewed the present situation in a European context, but also considered potentially positive and negative effects when restorative justice is being embraced by the establishment.
On the other hand, some initiatives in countries especially in Eastern Europe are still struggling to find a place for restorative justice, to make it known and understood by professionals and the public and to influence the criminal justice system.
We should take care that the restorative justice ideals and values are not overruled by the established criminal justice system, but we should also consider strategies that will enable restorative justice to develop its transformative potential.
217 people from 35 different European and non-European countries participated in this conference, making it the best attended conference that the European Forum for Restorative Justice has organised up till that moment. More than 50 Central and Eastern Europeans could benefit from a waiver of the registration fee. They were invited to the conference in the framework of the AGIS 2 project.
On 10-12 October 2002, the European Forum for Restorative Justice organised its second biennial conference, “Restorative justice and its relation to the criminal justice system”, in Oostende, at the Belgian coast. This conference brought together some 180 people from all around Europe to discuss the modes of co-operation between the criminal justice system and restorative justice practices.
The conference focused on the perception of restorative justice practices by different agencies of the criminal justice system and on the way these practices can have an impact on the different stages of the criminal justice process. The relationship between the criminal justice system and restorative justice practices was explored at the different stages of the criminal justice process and from the viewpoint of its respective protagonists: the police, the state prosecutors, the judges, the prison and other agencies involved in the implementation of (non-) custodial sentences.
The European Forum for Restorative Justice first conference, Victim-Offender Mediation in Europe. "Making Restorative Justice Work", was organised in Leuven on 27 till 29 October 1999. The conference dealt with information and issues specifically on victim-offender mediation, but placed it in a larger theoretical and policy-oriented context of restorative justice. It brought together about 140 people from 24 different European countries.