The Restorative Justice Bill is expected to give offenders a chance to repair the harm caused by crime. The proposed legislation is part of Government‘s commitment to providing alternative sentencing measure for young offenders with emphasis placed on healing the wounds of all parties affected by criminal behaviour.
According to information publicised in the Official Gazette, the legislation is part of a new approach to the problem-solving equation.
An explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill, noted that this form of justice will involve the victim, offender and the community.
According to the Bill, a restorative justice programme will be introduced.
The memorandum outlined that the programme will seek to address the impact of criminal activities on the victim, offender and the community– since when crime happens it affects them most.
The programme will seek to bring the residents, victims and offenders together in a permissive, safe and carefully managed environment.
According to the proposed legislation, the programme will also seek to reach the stakeholders in a fair and unbiased manner.
Further, the document outlined that emphasis will be placed on having the offender take steps to repair the harm done.
The Bill sets out too that the persons participating in the programme must consent or their parents must give approval before they engage in restorative justice. Those eligible, according to the document, would include juvenile offenders— particularly those between the ages 10-14 years.
To establish a system for restorative justice, the Bill sets out that the Minister of Legal Affairs will appoint a Director to manage and organise the programme.
Further , the document went on to state that the programme will be manned by a Council comprising the Minister, Programme Director, Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP), Commissioner of Police, Chief Probation Officer and a Representative of the Judiciary, the Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency and the Director of Juvenile Justice – who will act in an advisory capacity.
The Bill sets out too that restorative justice will be administered based on referrals and evaluation of the offender, victim and the crime committed.
The document also states that provision will be made for, inter alia, the Director of the programme to prepare an annual report about the success of the programme.
The report will include the amount of persons who accessed restorative justice, the outcomes, recidivism rate, and any other information, which will assist the Council in advising the Minister on the continuance of the programme.
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