Why restorative justice?
Sep 28, 2009
In our Western culture, there is a tendency to automatically equate justice to punishment, but is it accurate to consider this notion universal? An even bigger question is, is this kind of definition for justice ultimately beneficial to communities affected by conflict?
AFJN believes that although people who use violence and warfare should be held accountable for their actions in order for justice to be achieved, justice is also locally defined and locally driven. Justice in the court does not result in justice in the community. How can we help bring about justice between individuals and groups once perceived as enemies? How do we help rebuild trust and relationships after pain and trauma? AFJN believes that restorative justice is an essential component to building peace, and this is why restorative justice is one of our focus campaigns.
Despite their different situations, both Burundi and Uganda are at critical crossroads on their path to rebuilding the country post-conflict. With the last rebel group putting down its arms in Burundi and the return of former abductees and displaced persons back to their villages in Uganda, in both countries, relative peace can be observed. Our study, however, argues that in order for there to be true peace within these countries, the desires of its people to utilize community-based justice mechanisms to restore peace fully must be recognized. Despite the irrefutable importance of rebuilding economy, infrastructure, and homes, the rebuilding of lives and relationships amongst the people lie at the root of post-conflict transformation and true, lasting peace.