Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.
Stefaans Coetzee is the face of restorative justice
from the article by Bobby Jordan in The Sunday Times:
....Today is no ordinary day for the 33-year-old who grew up in an orphanage in Winburg in the Free State. Head slightly bowed, he looks up at two imams who have finally been allowed to visit him at Pretoria Central Prison. Their two previous attempts failed. The imams are from Rustenburg, where some of their congregation were nearly blown up by two Wit Wolwe bombs outside their mosque.
Now they want to ask Coetzee what it was all about.
Restorative Justice Centre helps change Roman Dutch law:
from RJC's website:
....The Restorative Justice Centre entered as amicus curiae in Le Roux v Dey, represented by the Centre for Child Law. Their submissions argued the common law should be developed to include a procedural step requiring reasonable engagement before court proceedings can be lodged. This way attempts to apologise must be the first resort, that failing, court proceedings may then be implemented. This is particularly important in cases involving children, as they are still developing and will naturally make mistakes as they grow and develop. The submissions were largely successful.
We can write the stories of peace with our lives
from the Fambul Tok website:
Fambul Tok (Krio for “Family Talk”) emerged in Sierra Leone as a face-to-face community-owned program bringing together perpetrators and victims of the violence in Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war through ceremonies rooted in the local traditions of war-torn villages. It provides Sierra Leonean citizens with an opportunity to come to terms with what happened during the war, to talk, to heal, and to chart a new path forward, together.
Fambul Tok is built upon Sierra Leone’s “family talk” tradition of discussing and resolving issues within the security of a family circle. The program works at the village level to help communities organize ceremonies that include truth-telling bonfires and traditional cleansing ceremonies—practices that many communities have not employed since before the war. Through drawing on age-old traditions of confession, apology and forgiveness, Fambul Tok has revived Sierra Leoneans’ rightful pride in their culture.
South African shock as alleged rape victim charged
South African rights groups have expressed shock at a decision to charge a 15-year-old alleged gang-rape victim with having underage sex.
The girl was charged with statutory rape along with her alleged rapists, who are aged 14 and 16.
Reconciliation Village Hosts Victims, Perpetrators of Rwandan Genocide
From the article by Zack Baddorf on Voice of America News:
It's been more than 16 years since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that left about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was re-elected in August with 93 percent of the vote, says now there are no longer Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, only Rwandans. As a test of how well the different ethnic groups can live together, victims and perpetrators of the genocide are living side-by-side in a small community known as the Reconciliation Village.
Truth and reconciliation at a price
The societal impact of gacaca on post-genocide Rwanda has been highly variable. Gacaca’s volatility results from the enormous number of communities involved, which themselves vary greatly in terms of their experiences of the genocide and the nature of inter-ethnic relations today. Over the last nine years, gacaca has recorded two principal successes and confronted two main challenges.
First, gacaca has proven remarkably successful at expediting the post-genocide justice process, delivering accountability for hundreds of thousands of génocidaires. In the process, it has commuted many convicted perpetrators’ sentences to overcome the problem of overcrowded prisons and facilitated the reintegration of most detainees into everyday society. Thus, the Rwandan government will soon have delivered on its promise of comprehensive prosecutions of those responsible for committing genocide crimes but without recreating the problem of overcrowded jails that necessitated gacaca in the first place....
Nigerian lawyers insist on criminal justice reforms
....Professor Kelvin Nwosu a former Director Academics of the Nigerian Law School had argued that the country's legal system which places much emphasis on retributive rather than restorative justice "has given rise to lack of remorse on the part of offenders who now demand proof of their culpability during trial rather than show remorse."
Nwosu, who was speaking in Abuja during the launch of the book: "Current Issues on Sentencing, Custodial Reforms and The Criminal Administration in Nigeria", written in honour of Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi, the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, wondered why the sentencing and custodial option should be adopted and thereafter public funds are spent again to decongest the prisons.
Coetzee does not talk about his childhood. He speaks about the planning that went into the bombing, how he was chosen for his excellent military skills, the years he has spent in prison. He asks for their questions, and the group responds. How did he learn to hate black people? How did he unlearn this hatred? How does he spend his days now? Is he sorry? And if he is so sorry, what can he give them? Coetzee admits he has nothing material to give the world except the leather belt that holds up his overalls. But, he says, God willing, if he gets out of jail, he can begin to attempt to compensate for what he has done. "There are children now in South Africa," he says, "children without parents. They might be tempted to get into violent gangs, to follow anger instead of love." He says, "I can show them that the first life you have to change is your own."
Zimbabwe: Calls for restorative justice must be heeded now
from an entry on Kubatana.net:
This becomes a strong case for the open discussion of what evil has been spawned by political violence and the need for a truth and reconciliation commission so people can move on with their lives. Yet some people in their wisdom think the past can take care of itself by natural processes of time and have been arrogant to calls for a naming and shaming of people behind the raping and killing of wives and mothers since independence.
The question for many is that what really can be expected from the people who are accused of heinous political crime and still control state apparatus that would in essence be in charge of letting the law take its course? So does the nation wait for that epoch when they are no longer in government and then they are tracked and shot down like rabid dogs?