Introduction to restorative justice in Malaysia
Oct 04, 2012
from the article on Voice of the Children:
In considering introducing restorative justice within the legal juvenile justice framework in Malaysia, we have to weigh its benefits and effectiveness in comparison to the existing system.
The existing juvenile justice system, i.e. the proceedings in the Court For Children, does not provide opportunity for the full participation of the child offender and their family. It is too complicated to comprehend and very formal in nature .
The restorative justice mechanism, especially Family Group Conferencing, however, takes place in a less formal setting without stringent procedures. There is equal emphasis on the child offender’s need, which will give wider opportunity for the child to express themselves freely.
In Family Group Conferencing, the immediate family and others connected to the child offender will participate during the sessions; this will allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities with the support of the community.
Some restorative justice programmes divert young offenders from being charged or prosecuted in court. In New Zealand, minor and first offenders are diverted from prosecution by means of an immediate (street) warning .When further action is necessary; the police refer the young person to “The Police Youth Aid Section”.
The Youth Aid Section may issue a warning in the presence of the youth’s parents, require an apology to the victim, or impose an additional sanction (for example community work). If the offence is more serious, the police may refer the youth to a family group conference. The police cannot refer the young offender directly to court. If the Family Group Conference can arrive at a satisfactory outcome, it is the end of the matter.
These programmes enable the young offender to be educated, counseled and held accountable for their wrongdoing through a humane, voluntary and informal procedure. By having the chance to restore their relationship with relevant social authorities, and to be forgiven instead of stigmatised, a youngster can be more readily reintegrated into society.