Restorative Justice in Focus: International Conference Explores Restorative Justice's Crucial Role in Criminal Matters
Tbilisi, Georgia, 12 October 2023 - International Conference "The Role of Restorative Justice in Criminal Matters: Towards a Community Needs Centred Justice System" took place in Tbilisi, Georgia, bringing together renowned international and national experts, as well as practitioners and professionals specializing in restorative justice and alternative mechanisms in criminal proceedings.
The Conference was hosted by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, with the support from the Council of Europe, UNICEF and the European Union.
The Conference aimed to identify the key issues related to development of restorative justice and alternative mechanisms to criminal proceedings and to create a platform for sharing and discussing international best practices with implementation perspectives on international and national levels. At the same time, the Conference provided an opportunity to share Georgia’s experience of restorative justice practices integrated in the framework of alternative mechanisms to juvenile criminal proceedings.
The conference focused the pivotal role of restorative justice within alternative mechanisms for dealing with criminal cases, with a particular emphasis on juveniles in conflict with the law and the essential role of victim support services.
The conference served as a comprehensive platform for the exploration and advancement of restorative justice practices across a diverse range of critical areas. Its primary objective was to promote a deeper understanding and application of restorative justice, encompassing various aspects, including the establishment of a legal framework and the assurance of quality in alternative mechanisms for juvenile criminal cases, as well as the implementation of restorative justice principles. Additionally, the conference delved into the examination of achievements, challenges, and best practices associated with Georgia's Juvenile Diversion and Mediation Programme. It also underscored the important role played by legal regulations and international standards in shaping alternative mechanisms for individuals, both juveniles and adults involved in criminal conflicts, with a strong emphasis on the principles of restorative justice.
Furthermore, the conference provided a platform for discussions that centered on victim support and trauma-focused approaches within restorative justice processes, in addition to addressing the practical aspects of implementing the Venice Declaration on the Role of Restorative Justice in Criminal Matters. The event offered an international perspective on restorative justice programs, emphasizing their practical application and the continuous learning and training essential for practitioners in the field. It also emphasized the critical role of restorative justice in the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals in conflict with the law, particularly in cases involving violent crimes. Lastly, participants at the conference underscored the significance of awareness-raising initiatives in fostering the development and widespread adoption of restorative justice approaches.
Restorative justice places a strong emphasis on people, their voluntary participation, and the restoration of relationships damaged by criminal acts. Additionally, it addresses issues concerning the coexistence of restorative and traditional justice systems, legislative concerns, the translation of restorative justice principles into practical application, and the need for effective multi-sectoral coordination.
In Georgia, the practice of restorative justice was initiated in 2010 with the introduction of the Diversion and Mediation Programme as an alternative mechanism to criminal proceedings. In particular, the victim-offender mediation programme as a component of restorative justice has been integrated within the alternative mechanism to juvenile criminal proceedings. Georgia marks its 13-year of experience in this field, with continuous work in further development of restorative justice within the juvenile justice system and beyond. The Conference served as a platform for Georgia, along with other invited guests, to share experience and good practice on strengthening restorative justice approaches and achieving more progress in this regard.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/