Mr Palm's remarks during the launching of the Commentary of the Law on Mediation organized by the Magistrates School on 15 February 2013
It is with great pleasure that I can address you on the occasion of the launching of the commentary of the law on mediation - along with our key partners.
The commentary provides professionals - the prosecutors, judges, lawyers, and mediators - guidance on the best ways to implement the mediation law. It reflects on the role of mediation as a service that is available for both sides in the conflict. It also discusses the reasons for use of mediation for juveniles.
Albania, like many other countries in the region – as it also was in many other European countries several decades ago - comes from a tradition of punishment, including for children. The concept of punishment - as I have mentioned in the forward of the commentary - reflects the expectation of the public and justice professionals that children need to ‘learn a lesson’. Detention is often seen as the best way to teach a lesson. But what do young people learn in prison?
People learn more in the early years and as teenagers, than during the rest of their life. They learn every day that they go to school, or have their social networks. Young people still develop and are in search of what to do with their life, every day and every hour of the day. All this learning comes to a standstill, when a young person is locked away in detention. Just to “teach a single lesson”.
Albania is now in the process of transforming justice from a punitive approach to a system of restorative justice, which includes diversion and mediation. There is overwhelming evidence that when avoiding prison and instead investing in rehabilitation, the rate of recidivism of juveniles falls drastically. Reintegration as the ultimate goal of justice system is better served.
Albania has recently adopted a law on mediation. This is important. Even more important is its implementation. Juveniles in conflict with the law should be diverted from legal proceedings if possible. Avoiding long justice procedures makes the justice system more efficient. Diversion and mediation are ultimately good for the entire society.
I hope the publication will serve justice professionals, especially present and future judges, prosecutors, mediators, and lawyers to make the justice system work for juveniles, so that the best interest of the child in conflict or in contact with the law is always safeguarded.