The first steering committee meeting for the project ‘Implementing Restorative Justice with Child Victims’ was held in Brussels on the 20th of March, at the IJJO headquarters. The project is being organised to increase and adapt the research on restorative justice within the EU, and ensure mutual learning between six countries.
This IJJO led project aims to develop peer-to-peer trainings and restorative justice pilot projects in different EU countries, as an implementation of the IJJO’s publication ‘European Model for Restorative Justice with Children and Young People’, produced in collaboration with its European Council for Juvenile Justice (ECJJ).
Representatives from the European Forum for Restorative Justice, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the University of Ulster, were present at the first steering committee meeting for this project. Most of the experts who collaborated on the drafting of the ‘European Model’ participated in the meeting, assuring a continuity with the previous IJJO and ECJJ led project ‘European Research on Restorative Juvenile Justice’, which produced this publication. Amongst these were Tim Chapman, professor at the University of Ulster; Maija Gellin, from the Finnish Institute of Restorative Justice; Monique Anderson, from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; and the IJJO European Affairs team.
The ‘European Research on Restorative Juvenile Justice’ produced three volumes in total. Complementing the EU Model, which functions as a manual on restorative justice with children and young people, a compendium of national snapshots was made, with a selection of the most effective juvenile restorative justice practices of the 28 EU member states, and a toolkit on how to implement the Model in effective practices was published.
There are four specific objectives to the ‘Implementing Restorative Justice with Child Victims’ project: to train professionals on the concrete usage of RJ practices with child victims; to make RJ processes a more common response to crimes involving young people in EU28; to protect and address the needs of young victims of crime through validated RJ practices; and to actively participate in implementing the ‘Victim’s Directive’.
Adopted on October 25th, 2012, the ‘Victims Directive’ established minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of young victims of crime. The directive expects EU member states to ensure that professionals are trained on the victims’ needs. However, it has been noted that far too few people who have been harmed, engage in restorative practices. This project aims to bridge the gap between this directive and the implementation of restorative practices over retribution and punishment.
With an important group of expert organisations in restorative justice involved, this project will allow for further knowledge and experience regarding RJ to reach countries which would benefit from gaining a better understanding of the issue.
In total, six countries are participating in the 3 pilot projects, based on a mentor-mentee relationship. Finland, Northern Ireland, and Belgium will act as the “mentors”, to Latvia, France and Bulgaria, who will act as the “mentees”. The mentors are professionals from countries who have successfully implemented RJ. The goal is to make of RJ a more common response to crimes committed against and/or by young people, despite the gravity or age of either the victim or the offender.
The project’s first field visit will be organized in Finland by Flinck Aune, Mari Kaltenaa-Uurtamo and Saana Kaipanen, of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.