The 2018 World Congress on Justice for Children aims to bring together professionals and stakeholders from all around the world to share their perspectives on:
➜ youth and family justice,
➜ the prevention of offending and violent extremism.
The Congress is being organised at the UNESCO House in Paris-France from the 28th to 30th of May 2018. It is organised by the International association of youth and family judges and magistrates (IAYFJM), Terre des hommes Foundation, and Penal Reform International (PRI) with Child Rights International Network (CRIN), Defence for Children International (DCI), Judicial Training Institute of Belgium (IGO- IFJ) and the Information for All Programme of UNESCO.
We mention it here because at World Congress on Juvenile Justice held in Geneva in 2015, Restorative Justice was a major theme. We are hoping it will be so again at this Congress. As the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Marta Santos Pais said at that meeting:
“Restorative justice represents a paradigm shift in the way we envisage the justice system and its role in the safeguard of children’s rights. Guided by the child’s dignity and best interests, based on dialogue, negotiation and problem solving, restorative justice moves away from retributive and punitive approaches and focus on reparation and children’s reintegration.”
The 2015 Congress, co-organized by the Government of Switzerland and Terre des hommes Foundation, gathered about 900 participants from different parts of the world. The main objectives of the congress were to reaffirm and strengthen the implementation of applicable juvenile justice standards across the diversity of justice systems and to prevent the criminalization of children; create a forum for dialogue to facilitate the exchange of good practices that respect the rights of the child in the implementation of judicial proceedings, including the social reintegration of children in contact with the justice system; and to improve international cooperation and follow-up in the field of juvenile justice and national protection systems.
Recalling the countless children deprived of liberty around the world, very often awaiting trial for long periods of time, the SRSG highlighted the benefits of restorative justice for children: “Restorative justice supports children’s access to justice and to participation in proceedings that the child understands, trusts and feel empowered to use; a system that is ready to act and stand on behalf of children’s rights, including when children are exposed to violence as victims, witnesses or alleged offenders.”
As the SRSG study “Promoting Restorative Justice for Children” acknowledges, restorative processes demonstrate overwhelming positive results for the victim, the offender and the community at large. Young people who participate in restorative programmes show fewer tendencies towards risky and anti-social behavior and significantly lower rates of recidivism; and they are also more likely to return to school and to becoming active and productive members of society. Victims feel treated with respect, more likely to receive an apology and involved in a fair outcome. Moreover, restorative justice helps to reduce social costs and brings a high social return.
SRSG Santos Pais reiterated her support to Governments and other stakeholders in promoting restorative justice models, framed by sound national legislation aligned with international standards, supported by well coordinated institutions and actors, and implemented with adequate resources and well-trained professionals.
“With strong awareness raising and social mobilization initiatives, nations can promote child friendly attitudes and practices among justice professionals and service providers, and sensitize the general public to the negative effects of punitive approaches and to the wide ranging benefits of restorative justice” added the SRSG.
The SRSG study “Promoting Restorative Justice for Children” is available here.
If you would like to get involved in this project exciting new project and help us develop and shape its future, please complete the application form at coventrycityofpeace.uk/coventry-restorative-justice-forum