International Conference on Restorative Justice: From Crime Prevention to Conflict Transformation. The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) collaborate on crime prevention and conflict transformation
At Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel, Dhaka a two-day international conference entitled ‘Restorative Justice: From Crime Prevention to Conflict Transformation’ was inaugurated by Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, M.P., Honourable Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament, Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan, M.P., Honourable Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Ferdinand von Weyhe, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ms. Sarah Cooke, Country Representative, DFID Bangladesh, and Mr. Tobias Becker, Country Director, GIZ Bangladesh. The inaugural session was chaired by Dr. Md. Mozammel Haque Khan, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs on 19 August 2015.
The conference results from discussions between the Ministries of Home and Law on the importance of Restorative Justice for tackling the pressure of outstanding cases in courts, for reducing the overcrowding in prisons and for increasing the effectiveness of the police and courts. On 20 August 2015, recommendations from the conference will be placed before the Honourable Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Anisul Huq, M.P.
Officials from the two ministries, prison officers, police, judges, lawyers, legal aid officers, local government members, journalists and academics from home and abroad discussed how Restorative Justice can reduce crime, restore faith in the delivery of justice, give voice and closure to victims, remove fear of crime, and explore the potential of this approach in Bangladesh. The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. John Braithwaite, renowned criminologist and a Distinguished Professor of the academic and implementation aspects of Restorative Justice.
Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Honourable Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament said, “The Government of Bangladesh is committed to reinforcing people’s confidence in the criminal justice system. I believe there is an opportunity to look at the practice of restorative justice more widely in Bangladesh.”
The Honourable Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan said, “If we can prevent crime, our streets, homes and places of work are safer. And international research has shown that offenders who go through a restorative justice process are less likely to reoffend than offenders who have spent time in prison.” He also said, “We have been in more and more discussions with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs on a number of these issues.”
In a message sent to the conference today, the Honourable Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Anisul Huq mentioned – “We are seriously looking at effective methods for dispute resolution to reduce our backlog and future case load. The Restorative Justice procedure is a promising alternative for us to explore.”
Ms. Sarah Cooke, Country Representative, DFID Bangladesh, highlighted the cooperation between the UK government and Bangladesh. She said, “The UK government fully recognises the importance of security and justice work and its impact on overall development. I expect the conference will contribute in raising awareness about restorative justice and identify the changes needed to happen in Bangladesh.”
“Looking at the huge amount of pending cases in court it is necessary to think of new approaches. Restorative Justice, where possible and applicable, might be one option to restore peace and justice in due course – and not only after years. Furthermore, it gives offenders and victims alike the possibility to actively take part in the restoration process.” said Dr. Ferdinand von Weyhe, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and German Development Cooperation (GIZ) under the project “Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons (IRSOP)”. The Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Dhaka University is co-hosting the conference. The project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).