A bottom-up approach to justice
An international conference held in the capital yesterday highlights the importance of restorative justice toward reducing crime and bringing peace and harmony in the society. We welcome this development when the road to justice can be long with many curves, unknowns and sometimes, dead-ends.
The goal of restorative justice is to make the legal system more healing and transformative, reduce the likelihood of future offences and rehabilitate offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
To understand this alternative method of arbitration, we must know what it is not. It does not challenge the existing legal system, rather it reinforces it. It is a choice within the exiting legal system, carried out under a trained facilitator. At its core lies a simple idea that a crime is a violation of people's rights and violation creates obligation.
Lessons may be learnt from other countries. New Zealand has made restorative justice the pivot of its entire juvenile justice system. Panchayat in the subcontinent offers promise from a restorative perspective. Local problems can be solved locally.
The government must work hard along with communities and domestic and international partners to ensure that restorative justice programmes give adequate support to offenders to change their patterns of behaviour and fulfill their obligations to the society.