This Interview was conducted/taped by UNICEF Georgia, in Tbilisi (November 2017)
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is a way of thinking and acting about crime and criminal justice that is - first of all - putting the victim in the centre of attention and to see how the harm caused to the victim can be repaired. In order to do that we have to help the offender to make that process of reparation possible.
[Restorative Justice recognises that crime hurts everyone – victims, offenders and the community. Restorative justice is a modern crime solution, in comparison to traditional punishment]
It includes people and does not exclude people from society. If you just punish by prison sentence, for example, then very often it does not really help us to solve the problem. Applying the prison sentence without offering any social support does not make our societies more secure or safe.
[In Restorative Justice, the victim takes an active role in the process. Meanwhile, offenders take meaningful responsibility for their actions. It is a process where the victim can meet the offender]
So it is both working in a constructive and in a positive way with the offender to [take responsibility] on the one hand, and at the same time helping to repair the damages in a material or non-material way to the victim. These two things are always important. You can do this in case of theft, robbery, or fights. But also in cases of violent crimes - you can apply this Restorative Justice approach.
I see very promising results in Georgia. It [has been] only a process of a couple of years and usually you need many years – 5 years, 10 years or even more in a country really to implement this new approach to juvenile delinquency and to crime in general. You need a lot of cooperation – from the judiciary, the public prosecutors, the youth judges, and the probation system. Multi-agency partnerships [are] something that they are doing really [well] here in Georgia.
Will this reform spread throughout the whole justice system of Georgia?
Well, that is what many people here hope and I share that hope together with them of course. Important steps have to be taken to broaden the scope of application of restorative justice. Not only to do that in a diversion context but also at the sentencing level even during the execution of sentences both for minors and for adults.