My impression is that the offer of extended victim-offender mediation to work through the conflict in consultation with supporters in a joint and extrajudicial round of talks would be taken up willingly by refugees as in the case set out above. Because sometimes a strong (family) bond seems to exist among refugees whereby also friends and neighbours are commonly looked on as members of the family and are included in quarrels, supporters could often be brought along happily.
It seems to me that the suggestion that people might want to of resolve conflict in a joint dialogue together with family and friends — and not through a judicial process — is more obvious and familiar in many cultures than in German culture. In many cases there had already been attempts undertaken in advance (of mediation through a mediation organisation) to set up a discussion and achieve clarification. Sometimes people had already reached settlements on their own and struck compensation agreements.
Since in mediation in particular the focus is on the background to an offence in terms of both the origin of the conflict and the experiences, emotions and needs associated with it, joint communication in, at best, a common language or similar linguistic circumstances is important. An interpreter can neither translate the exact words nor the intended meaning directly. For this reason it can quickly come to misunderstandings. In addition, the reality that the mediator is not part of the exchange that an interpreter conveys in the discussion, indeed leads, and that the rhythm of the meeting is interrupted means that the parties cannot really speak with each other successfully. Here in my opinion lie the biggest challenges for mediation with refugees, which should not however exclude the process at the outset.
Besides this, a cultural understanding and interest, specifically, curiosity about the prevailing cultural institutions, can help the mediator and give the parties give a feeling of being taken seriously and make the mediation significant and meaningful for the parties.
In Germany, victim-offender mediation should be considered as well as worked towards at every stage in the process (§155a StPO) and it should be accessible to everyone without discrimination. For this, the necessary capabilities need to be extended on the one hand and on the other mediators need to work in reflective and resource sensitive ways and need to be able above all to adjust flexibly to the people with whom they are working. In this way, ordinary and extended victim-offender mediation as means of restorative justice can offer the opportunity to refugees of experiencing an alternative form from a straightforward judicial criminal process with consequences (which for refugees with an uncertain right to stay can be considerable). Through mediation conflicts can be worked through more sustainably and mediation can also be an effective and socially preventive measure.