The European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) organised a 2-day international restorative justice (RJ) symposium (Bilbao, Basque country, Spain, 5-6 June) on the newly adopted CoE Recommendation on RJ in criminal justice matters, including many interactive sessions for practitioners, policymakers and researchers to actively engage in the discussion. Before the event, the EFRJ membership met for its Annual General Meeting on 4 June evening.
In October 2018, the Council of Europe adopted the most advanced international legal instrument in the field of restorative justice: the Recommendation concerning restorative justice in criminal matters, based on the revision of the previous Recommendation on penal mediation. On the same year, the EFRJ launched the European Restorative Justice Policy Network to support national policymakers in need of advice and assistance to implement such Recommendation.
The Recommendation is very progressive because it advocates for the use of restorative justice in all stages of criminal procedures and in all types of crimes. This raises endless possibilities and challenges at the same time, and we need to ask important questions and share our experience on both.
- Are our standards of practice up the best level?
- What kind of training do restorative justice facilitators need?
- What kind of training do judicial agencies need?
- How can we enhance cooperation between judicial agencies and restorative justice agencies?
- How to increase access to restorative justice and how to provide information and offer this service?
- How to encourage restorative justice in specific settings, like in prisons and in juvenile justice cases?
- In how far can restorative justice empower the parties participating in its practices?
In order to create a platform for exchange, the EFRJ together with our local organizers, the Ministry of Labour and Justice of the Basque Government and Deusto University, organised this international symposium where the restorative community is offered the opportunity to reflect on these important advancements in the field and prepare in terms of policy and practice developments.
Central to our symposium was the focus on the transition of policy and practice from a more narrow conception of “penal mediation” towards a full-fledged “restorative justice” in criminal (youth) justice systems. We engaged with the Recommendation both as a normative document which shows the way, but also as a document that points both towards possibilities and limitations in the field. Most importantly, wanted to enable practitioners and policy makers to “give life” to the Recommendation, by working together and gaining inspiration from others in the field.
The focus of the symposium was on sharing good practices, reflections, but also concerns on three central themes:
- Restorative justice unlimited?: The application of restorative justice in all the stages of the criminal procedure and for all types of crime.
- Restorative justice in prison: risks and opportunities, and.
- Restorative justice and empowerment: focus on specific target groups.
- Tim Chapman: EFRJ Chair, Ulster University, Northern Ireland.
- Alberto Olalde : Lecturer of Social Work, University of the Basque Country, Spain.
- Nacho Martínez: Coordinator of the Service of Restorative Justice of the Basque Government, Spain.
- Theo de Roos: Emeritus professor in criminal law and criminal procedure at Tilburg University, The Netherlands.
- Bart Claes: EFRJ Treasurer, Avans University, The Netherlands.
- Gemma Varona: Basque Institute of Criminology, Basque Country, Spain.
- Brunilda Pali: EFRJ Secretary, KU Leuven, Belgium.
- Karin Sten Madsen: Independent consultant, Denmark.
- Bernd Glaese: Responsible for VOM and some more services at NEUSTART, Austria.
- Diletta Stendardi: Lecturer and trainer for the General Direction of Education of the Ministry of Justice and at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Italy.
- Raúl Calvo Soler: University of Girona, Spain.
- Aarne Kinnunen : EFRJ Board, Ministry of Justice, Finland.
- Jesús María Guerrero Getxo: Civil servant (psychologist) in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Spanish General Secretary of Penitentiary Institutions (SGIP). Lecturer at Deusto University, Basque Country, Spain.
- Jorge Ollero: Coordinator of RJ services at Federación Andaluza ENLACE and former Jurist of Penitentiary Institutions in the Spanish Ministry of Interior, Spain.
- Ursula Fernee: Assistant Principal Probation Officer in the Irish Probation Service.
- Antonio Buonatesta: Director of the Wallonian RJ service Mediante. Belgium.
Download the symposium booklet
One of the events we organised during the symposium was the theatre play "LA MIRADA DEL OTRO" on restorative justice and political violence.