How is RJ linked to human rights?
According to Tony Ward and Robyn Langlands in their article “Restorative justice and the human rights of offenders: Convergences and divergences”
Restorative justice has gained significant momentum as a justice reform movement within the past three decades, and it is estimated that up to one hundred countries worldwide utilize restorative justice practices. Although claims about the role of restorative justice in protecting human rights are repeatedly made in the restorative justice literature, they are seldom supported by empirical evidence or a thorough analysis of human rights and their justification. In this paper, we discuss how the assumptions underpinning restorative justice practices impact on offenders’ human rights, and their points of convergence and divergence. We argue that while these assumptions can protect certain offender rights, they may violate others. We finish with some suggestions about how to reconcile the tensions between human rights and restorative justice, focusing in particular on the relationship between community needs and individual well-being.
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume 13, Issue 5, October 2008
Elizabeth Snyder quotes Joanna Shapland’s article ‘Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Just Responses to Crime?’ in A. Bottoms, K. Roach, J. Roberts, M. Schiff and A. von Hirsch (eds), Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Competing or Reconcilable Paradigms?, Hart Publishing, Oxford and Portland, Oregon, 195-217.
Shapland asserts that the legitimacy of the state ‘is bound up with its espousal of universalistic values’ and the administration, within formal criminal justice procedures, of these values. Among these universal values is the state dispensation of justice that is truly just, that adheres to basic principles of human rights. Human rights legislation … is a means of safeguarding these values and serves as a bulwark between the ‘lone powerless defendant’ and the potentially ‘coercive state’.
This focus on protecting defendants from state corruption or miscarriages of justice is seen in international documents outlining basic principles of human rights. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person; no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’ (UN 1948)
In recent years, restorative justice has assumed an increasingly prominent position in discussions of human rights and the rule of law…
According to Paul McCold of the International Institute Women, Restorative Justice, and the Pursuit of Human Rights in the Solomon Islands for Restorative Practices, restorative justice principles ‘have direct implications for how the United Nations organizes efforts to respond in the aftermath of mass violations of human rights and in the reconstruction of justice systems in countries recovering from occupation or authoritarian regimes’. McCold underscores the need for healing in the aftermath of violence and suggests that grassroots, community-level restorative justice is as essential as peace accords and the cessation of armed conflict. In short, restorative justice addresses the basic question: ‘How do people stop hating each other?’ (Porter 2005:2).
“Waging Peace: Women, Restorative Justice, and the Pursuit of Human Rights in the Solomon Islands” by Elizabeth Snyder