Press Releases

    Note to Correspondents

    18 April 2002


    Criminal Justice Reform: Lessons Learned
    Community Involvement and Restorative Justice

    VIENNA, 18 April (UN Information Service) -- On 17 April 2002, on the occasion of the eleventh session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Institutes comprising the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network organized a one-day practical workshop on "Community Involvement and Restorative Justice: Lessons Learned", within the framework of Criminal Justice Reform, which is the main theme for the 2002 Commission.

    The Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network consists of the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention and a number of interregional and regional institutes around the world, as well as specialized centres. It has been developed through arrangements between the United Nations and Member States to assist the international community in strengthening international co-operation in crucial areas of crime prevention and criminal justice. Its components provide a variety of services including exchange of information, research, training and public education.

    This year’s workshop featured nine presentations representing all regions of the world. The workshop presentations provided practical and substantive solutions to further the involvement of the community in the criminal justice process, and to the adoption of restorative justice practices complementary to the mainstream criminal justice systems.

    At the outset Robert Cormier, representing the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (Vancouver, Canada) provided a working definition for Restorative Justice as:

    …an approach to justice that focuses on repairing the harm caused by crime while holding the offender responsible for his or her actions, by providing an opportunity for the parties directly affected by a crime – victim(s), offender and community – to identify and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime, and seek a resolution that affords healing, reparation and reintegration, and prevents future harm.

    Despite early achievements in the use of restorative practices, he emphasized that future restorative justice initiatives should be supported by evaluation and research, as well as guided by principles as articulated in the resolution recommended by this Commission.

    A case study of juvenile justice in Latin America was presented by Elias Carranza, Director of ILANUD, the Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (San Jose, Costa Rica). He emphasized the need for juvenile justice legislation to be guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international instruments.

    Kunihiko Sakai, Director of UNAFEI, the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (Tokyo, Japan) presented on community involvement in Crime Prevention in Japan, through the use of volunteer probation officers.

    The involvement of local communities in the conciliatory and compensatory practices in African countries was the focus of a presentation by Masamba Sita, Scientific Advisor of UNAFRI, the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (Kampala, Uganda).

    Legislative case studies on the adoption of restorative justice processes were provided for Italy by Renzo Orlandi, and for Spain by Joan Queralt Jimenez, both representing ISPAC, the International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council (Milan, Italy). These case studies looked at the introduction of mediation and victim involvement in the criminal justice process and other dispositions such as stay of case, suspended sentencing, and cancellation of criminal record.

    Edwin Zedlewski, Senior Scientific Advisor of the National Institute of Justice (Washington, D.C., USA) presented a case study carried out in five US cities which described the design, implementation, evaluation, and eventual expansion of a comprehensive drug prevention programme for children and juveniles.

    Ali F. Al-Jahny, Vice-Dean, College of Graduated Studies of NAASS, the Naif Arab Academy of Security Studies (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) described the unique characteristics associated with the Sharia approach to crime in Islamic countries.

    The final presentation by Frantz Denat, representing ICPC, the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (Montreal, Canada) discussed the matter of policing, underlined the problems of traditional policing methods and related the experience of community policing practices that were established in an attempt to achieve better results.

    The United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network Institutes plan to continue organizing future workshops in conjunction with Commission meetings to support of the priorities of the Commission.

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