Articles on the EFRJ Conference in Belfast
Two articles on the conference in Belfast have been published in the German TOA-magazineof the Servicebüro für Täter-Opfer-Ausgleich und Konfliktschlichtung (p.33-36). The first one is a translation into German from Eric Wiersma’s “Impressions of the Eighth Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice ‘Beyond Crime: Pathways to Desistance, Social Justice and Peacebuilding’ Belfast, 11–14 June 2014“, published in the EFRJ Newsletter in September 2014. The second one are the impressions of the EFRJ member Frauke Petzold (in German only).
If you want to know more about the last conference organised by the EFRJ in Belfast, click here.
You can also view a short video of the conference and read other impressions of the conference written by our Dutch members here.
Mediation in Poland
The EFRJ Board Member Beata Czarnecka-Dzialuk (from Poland) attended several conferences on mediation and restorative justice in her home country during the Autumn 2014. Among others, a RJ Lunch took place in November, as proposed by the EFRJ to celebrate the RJ Week 2014!
Find here the report of Beata’s experience.
Victimology Society of Serbia- Conference report
On 27-28 November 2014 the EFRJ participated in the fifth Annual Conference of the Victimology Society of Serbia in Belgrade entitled “Victims’ protection: International law, national legislation and practice”.
The special focus of this year’s conference on European legislation is linked to the accession negotiations of Serbia to the European Union. Serbia is in the process of looking into the harmonization of its national legislation and policies with the EU acquis and specifically with the European standards that contribute to better protection of victims.
Prof. Marc Groenhuijsen (INTERVICT, Tilburg) addressed the evolutions in international and European policies concerning the protection of crime victims. He pointed out how the 2012 Victims Directive is a strong and ambitious legal instrument, which was adopted despite a lack of compliance with the former and less ambitious European legal instruments, such as the 2001 Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings. He warned for the risk of ‘victim fatigue’ on the part of officials responsible for the operation of the criminal justice system. Prof. Momčilo Grubač (emeritus from the Law Faculty of Union University, Belgrade) reflected on the state of affairs for the crime victim in the legislation and practice of the Republic of Serbia. He pointed to the lack of restitution awarded through criminal proceedings and the non-existence in Serbia of a compensation fund for victims of violent crimes.
Two plenary presentations were dedicated to restorative justice. EFRJ research coordinator Katrien Lauwaert spoke about EU policies on victims of crime in restorative justice. Building on the work done by the Council of Europe, the EU has introduced provision about RJ in its legislation on victims of crime, first in the 2001 Framework Decision and more recently in the 2012 EU Directive on establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (Victims Directive). The Directive focuses strongly on safeguards for victims participating in restorative justice processes in order to protect them from secondary victimization. Other equally important elements for victims, such as the possibility of self-referral and the availability of RJ for all types of crime and at any stage of the criminal proceedings are not addressed. Probably we need more development and awareness at the national level before there is sufficient political support for a more elaborate EU instrument on restorative justice processes. Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička (Faculty of Law, Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg) presented the experience of Croatia with victims of sexual violence in war time and restorative justice. She paid special attention to a Draft law which is currently discussed in Croatia and which addresses victims of wartime sexual violence.
Sanja Ćopić (Victimology Society of Serbia) presented her team’s work in the European ALTERNATIVE project, in which the EFRJ is also a partner. Her paper was entitled “Conflicts, victimization and justice in the intercultural context of Serbia”.
Besides the major topic of European Victim legislation, many other themes were discussed in about 50 presentations. The conference was attended by around 100 participants from Serbia, neighboring countries and other parts of the world, who engaged in intensive and inspiring discussions.
Below, two pictures, one of the conference team and one of the session in which Dr. Katrien Lauwaert presented.
Thinking Days for the RJ research team of KU leuven
Last week 12 and 13 December 2014, the EFRJ staff based in Leuven participated to the so-called “Thinking days” together with the Restorative Justice Research Line of the KU Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC). The two-days meeting took place in the training centre for penitentiary staff based on Merksplas, 75 km from Leuven (Belgium).
The “Thinking days” have been organized thanks to the ongoing collaboration between the EFRJ and LINC. During the first work session, Prof. Ivo Aertsen, one of the founders of the EFRJ, presented the history of the RJ Research Line at the Law Faculty of KU Leuven, starting from the history of the criminology field at KU Leuven in the 1930s, continuing with the start of victimology in the 1980s and finally the launch of research on RJ in the 1990s, which resulted in the birth of the EFRJ in 2000. A previous researcher of the EFRJ, Brunilda Pali, contributed to this presentation by mapping the research carried out so far by the RJ Research Line (a brochure presenting these researches until 2014 can be found here).
The historical overview of the history of research on RJ conducted in Leuven has been used as a starting point to further discuss the identity of the RJ Research Line at LINC, in terms of research, methodology, interaction between theory and practice, interdisciplinary approach and international dimension of the RJ Research Line. The discussion further continued during the second work session, where the internal functioning of the RJ Research Line was discussed. This session was led by the EFRJ’s previous executive officer, Monique Anderson, and it referred to the tasks conducted by the members of the RJ Research Line, as well as the exchange and contacts between each other, the guidance and supervision of all researchers and the leadership of all the team. Special attention was given also to the relation between the EFRJ and LINC, to identify how the two bodies can keep on interacting and supporting each other in the future.
The “Thinking days” ended with a guided tour in the prison/school centre of Hoogstraten. This prison is reserved for an exclusive group of 180 Belgian prisoners, who can attend professional learning programmes (i.e., for carpenters, bricklayers, electricians and printers). While living in prison, prisoners have the opportunity to learn a profession and receive a diploma, which can be used in the outside world. Compared to other Belgian prisons, the one in Hoogstraten has limited protection measures and focuses on the rehabilitation of the offender through this interesting strategic community plan.
The EFRJ staff was delighted to take part in this two-day event together with the RJ researchers from KU LINC and it is looking forward to strengthen this historical collaboration, which exists since almost 15 years.
Belated RJ Week in Latvia
This year also Latvia participated to the International RJ Week campaign launched by the EFRJ during the third week of November. The Latvian State Probation Service (which provides Victim- Offender Mediation since 2009) organized a week of public activities for raising awareness on RJ and implementing RJ in working places. The local organisers have chosen a different week to celebrate this international event (1-9 December) and today they sent us a brief report and pictures of their activities:
“The State Probation Service of Latvia organizes a RJ Week since 2009. During this week, we usually offer different activities for a wider society in Latvia, but this year we decided to organize activities within our own organization in order to implement Restorative Justice values in our working place. Our activities took place from 1st – 9th of December.
We [the State Probation Service] have 28 local structures around Latvia and every structure had the possibility to voluntarily organize a one-day event about a Restorative Working Place. Colleagues from 18 local structures and central office agreed to participate; all together we counted 210 people.
In the central office of the State Probation Service we started with a peace-making circle. In the circle we discussed one story about communication and how we perceive information, how we transmit it to others, what we expect from other colleagues and who I am as a colleague. Then we discussed in what kind of working place we would like to be every day and how we will reach a healthy working place. The results of all those who participated in the local structures and central office were presented in a creative way.”
Many thanks to Diana Ziedina, the Head of Mediation Division of the State Probation Service based in Riga, or being our contact person in Latvia and being one of the local organisers of this event!
International Juvenile Justice Observatory Conference, Brussels
The 6th International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) Conference entitled “Making deprivation of children’s liberty a last resort – Towards evidence-based policies on alternatives” was held in Brussels (3-4 December 2014). The event brought together around 300 participants from all over the world. During the presentations and workshops, restorative justice was one of the key elements in offering alternative ways of dealing with juvenile delinquency and avoiding deprivation of liberty of children.
The EFRJ was honoured to be invited to this conference. Edit Törzs, Project Officer at the EFRJ was given the floor to present the brand new short film of the EFRJ “Restorative justice. Inspiring the future of a just society for all“. Participants welcomed the short movie, which introduced the topic of the following plenary session on “Implementing effective restorative justice practices to interrupt the cycle of violence and juvenile crime”. The plenary focused on the potentials of using restorative justice in crimes involving young offenders. In presenting the findings of extensive academic research David Farrington, Emeritus Professor at Cambridge University, stressed the importance of identifying specific factors in youth behaviours that can be associated with persistent criminal conducts and recidivism. Tim Chapman, Lecturer at the University of Ulster and Board member of the EFRJ, pointed out how restorative justice can effectively break this cycle of juvenile crime by engaging the parties and stimulating the sense of responsibility for the harm they have caused among young offenders. During his presentation, Prof. Frieder Dunkel from University of Greifswald, president-elect of the European Society of Criminology, reported the findings of a recent study collecting detailed information on legislation and implementation of restorative justice in penal matters across different European countries.
In addition to this plenary session, the implementation of restorative justice approaches within the juvenile justice field has been discussed in occasions. The presentations during the workshop “Fostering restorative and mediation-based practices by empowering the community” on Thursday afternoon discussed the Implementation of restorative justice practices in different countries. Based on the Dutch programme STOP implemented in the Netherlands, a local organisation in Croatia successfully decreased the incidence of some misdemeanours committed by youngsters in Zagreb and will now start a similar project in another city. Another speaker reported about a case where a young Sudanese boy was charged of stealing goods from his neighbour. Despite the boy committed the crime to provide for the food for his family, he was found guilty and was facing criminal charges. However the victim agreed within a conferencing meeting to let the boy work in a local restaurant until he would have been able to repay for the stolen goods. After this period the boy got a job at the restaurant and he can now support his family without committing crimes. In Spain, a case of group bullying against a wheel chaired classmate has been dealt with restorative justice practices. Despite the initial diffidence of the families who were also invited to attend the meetings, the victim was able to share about his daily life and his difficulties directly with those have bullied him. The storytelling experience was so influential that the former bullies, realizing the harm caused, started to help not only him but also volunteering in local associations taking care of people with disabilities. This is only one example of the many cases dealt with restorative justice practices by a network of around 70 organisations active in Spain. Another presenter described the legal framework and achievements of restorative justice for young offenders in South Korea. Academic studies in South Korea show that restorative justice can better address the needs of victims, offenders and their family, who prefer more humanized or personalized process than the official criminal justice one.
The 6th IJJO International Conference was an inspiring experience and EFRJ is looking forward to cooperate more closely with IJJO on the application of restorative justice approaches within the juvenile justice field.
Conference of the COREPOL project, Brussels
The EFRJ, as partner of the ALTERNATIVE project, attended the final conference of the FP7 COREPOL project. The conference, entitled “Restorative Justice in Policing Ethnic Minorities” was held in Brussels, Belgium, 4 December 2014.
The objective of the one-day conference was to spread basic knowledge about the concept of conflict resolution, their implementation and varieties across the legal cultures. The focus was on the policing of minorities in particular, as well as the potential of police and law enforcement for handling conflicts and peace building within democratic societies.
The aims and topic of the COREPOL project are very close to the main issues in the FP7 ALTERNATIVE project, in which the EFRJ cooperates with 6 partners on developing alternative understandings of security and justice by applying restorative approaches in intercultural conflict settings.
Besides learning about the work done in the project in Austria, Germany and Hungary, the presentation of Prof. Wesley G. Skogan (Northwest University, Chicago, USA) made the link between the two projects especially visible. Prof. Skogan talked about factors affecting the relationship and trust between police and migrant communities and how this relationship is linked, in general, among others, to the social (in)security, to the treatment of the immigrants by the host society and to the extent of victimization and fear experienced. The conference suggested that one promising way of improving these factors could be a more frequent use of restorative justice methods and approaches.
14th anniversary of the EFRJ
8 December 2000- 8 December 2014
14 years have passed by since the establishment of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (originally called the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice). Thanks to everyone who took part in this journey and contributed to the establishment of RJ across Europe and beyond.
Only during this past year, the EFRJ engaged in different activities for promoting international exchange, increasing cooperation and mutual assistance, raising awareness on RJ, coordinating and stimulating research in the field of RJ. These were our mayor events and activities of 2014:
- 8th International Conference of the EFRJ in Belfast, with the release of a short film
- 3rd European Restorative Justice Award received by Christa Pelikan
- Coordination and finalisation of three EU-funded research projects (Accessibility and Initiation of RJ; Judicial Training for RJ; Desistance and RJ)
- New publications of research projects
- Twelve trainings, workshops and seminars of the three research projects (see News items here)
- Partnerships in other research projects
- Coordination of events during the RJ Week 2014 including RJ Lunches, RJ Brunches, and RJ Coffee Degustations (see News items here), with the release of a short film
- Creation of a database on RJ Teaching Programmes in Europe and beyond
- Additional resources available on the website, i.e. the EFRJ communication materials, the database of films and documentaries about RJ and related topics
- Participation of the Board Members and EFRJ staff in other events across Europe and beyond, e.g. in Belgium, India, Italy, Serbia, Spain, The Netherlands (see News items here)
- Consolidation of the Criminal Justice Platform Europe (CJPE)
- Election of new Board Members, recruitment of new staff based in Leuven and engagement of volunteers in Europe an beyond (see “Who we are”)
- Regular Newsletters and Newsflashes sent respectively to EFRJ members and followers
In occasion of the EFRJ’s 15th anniversary, today 8 December 2014, we would like to thank all those individuals and organizations who assisted us in organizing all the activities held during the past year. We are looking forward to keep on collaborating with you and make RJ the future in Europe and beyond!
RJ Week in Zagreb, Croatia
Seminar on RJ in Rome, Italy
More than 150 people attended the seminar on communities of support, associations and restorative justice at the Palazzo Montecitorio in Rome (Italy) on 12 November. Among them, our Board Member from Portugal, Dr. Bruno Caldeira, attended the seminar as a representative of the European Forum for Restorative Justice. Find here a short report of Caldeira’s experience in Rome. More information on the event can be found here (or on the PsicoIus website, in Italian only).