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Methodological Guidelines created to implement the Toolkit on Restorative Justice in Colombia

Tuesday 22nd of March 2016 | Latin America, Colombia
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As part of the IJJO’s technical assistance to the EUROsociAL II programme, which is financed by the European Union, two guidelines to implement the 'Manual de Herramientas de Justicia Restaurativa' (Toolkit on Restorative Justice) have been created. On one side, there is a ‘Guía Metodológica de Aplicación de Prácticas y Justicia Restaurativa en el marco de las sanciones establecidas en el Sistema de Responsabilidad Penal Adolescente (SRPA)’ (Methodological Guideline that aims to include restorative practices into the sanctions that the Criminal Justice System for Adolescents can implement). On the other side, the ‘Guía para la Resolución Alterna de Conflictos y Mediación en el Ámbito Escolar y Comunitario desde los principios de la Justicia Restaurativa’ (Guideline for the Alternative Resolution of Conflicts and Mediation in the School and Community Environment) was also established. These two guidelines cover both the legal and the educational spheres, and they aim to increase the use of restaurative practices and, in this way, offer a greater variety of alternatives for conflict resolution.

To present these Guidelines, working meetings were coordinated by the IJJO in Bogotá between the Colombian Family Wellbeing Institute (ICBF), the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office, and civil society organisations. The IJJO was supported by the National Planning Department (DNP) all throughout the technical assistance, as well as through the process of monitoring the implementation of the policy on Crime Prevention amongst Adolescents and Young People.

The technical assistance the IJJO provides, supports, through these two guidelines, the effective implementation of the Toolkit on Restaurative Justice, which the IJJO also contributed to creating. A methodological guideline was presented, supporting competent institutions in the process of refocusing their sanctions from the criminal justice system for adolescents to a system of sanctions that incorporate restaurative elements. This guideline is complimented by another one about alternative resolution of conflicts, and mediation in schools and the community.

Although it is true that sanctions are binding for young people, these documents suggest a way to apply sanctions by using restaurative approaches, as it considers the needs of the young people, the victim and the community. This shift towards damage recovery or the assumption of the offender’s own responsibility for his or her actions can be done through restaurative justice programmes. The planned actions would have a voluntary nature, and would be offered to the young person as a complementary measure to enrich the outcomes of the criminal proceeding. Measures would be focused on improving dialogue, taking accountability for the offence, and repairing the damages made, to the offender, the victim and/or the community.

In the presentation meetings with Colombian institutions, the benefits of applying restaurative justice were addressed, as well as the methodological guidelines to apply restaurative practices for custodian and non-custodial sanctions. The objective was to enrich the process of reflection and accountability of the young person at any point in the criminal proceedings, and, where applicable, encourage damage repair. Throughout the five days of work, participants also visited detention facilities in Bosconia and Terciarios Capuchinos, in the district Belén, in Bogotá.

It is in this manner that the action which was taken, which was followed by the validation of Methodological Guidelines, confirms the political compromise to this cause of the Ministry of Justice and Education, the Specialised Prosecutors, the ICBF and the operating administrators of Centres of Deprivation of Liberty. It also grants them the necessary tools to apply the practices suggested in the Toolkit on Restaurative Justice.

In the same way, these guidelines will be disseminated locally thanks to the compromise of the Municipality of Bogotá, the Casa de la Cultura (Cultural Institute) and the Casas de Justicia de Colombia (Houses of Justice of Colombia).

  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

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  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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