The Restorative Justice Council in the UK writes: "The UK has opted in to a European Union (EU) Directive establishing the right of victims to safeguards in restorative justice services and recognising the ‘great benefit’ to victims that participation in restorative justice brings. The Restorative Justice Council worked with the European Forum for Restorative Justice to secure changes to the draft Directive, based on the evidence that RJ, delivered well, provides many benefits for victims. The final text of the Directive reflects the benefits of participation in restorative justice and sets out the need for minimum standards to ‘ensure victims have access to safe and competent restorative justice services’."
The document (full PDF download here) includes the following excerpts:
"Restorative justice services, including for example victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing and sentencing circles, can be of great benefit to the victim, but require safeguards to prevent secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation. Such services should therefore have as a primary consideration the interests and needs of the victim, repairing the harm done to the victim and avoiding further harm. Factors such as the nature and severity of the crime, the ensuing degree of trauma, the repeat violation of a victim's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, power imbalances, and the age, maturity or intellectual capacity of the victim, which could limit or reduce the victim's ability to make an informed choice or could prejudice a positive outcome for the victim, should be taken into consideration in referring a case to the restorative justice services and in conducting a restorative justice process. Restorative justice processes should, in principle, be confidential, unless agreed otherwise by the parties, or as required by national law due to an overriding public interest. Factors such as threats made or any forms of violence committed during the process may be considered as requiring disclosure in the public interest." (p. 19)
"'[R]estorative justice' means any process whereby the victim and the offender are enabled, if they freely consent, to participate actively in the resolution of matters arising from the criminal offence through the help of an impartial third party." (p. 34)
Article 12, on page 48, outlines "safeguards in the context of restorative justice services" including ensuring victims not be re-victimized, that the process be voluntary, and that both victim and offender be given full information about the process and potential outcomes.
In related news from the Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) web site:
The European Commission has announced the award to Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) of a 515.577 EURO two year victim-led restorative justice (RJ) program titled “Restorative Justice in Europe: Safeguarding Victims & Empowering Professionals” (RJE).
The project is due to run from 1st November 2012 under the direction of IARS’ Founder and Director Theo Gavrielides. RJE will facilitate the implementation of the EU Directives on Minimum Standards of Victims and Protection Measures. These Directives are expected to have a significant impact on how restorative practices (e.g. mediation, conferencing) are delivered in EU member states.
IARS, a UK-based international think-tanks with expertise in community-led solutions to crime, such as restorative justice, will lead a partnership of 6 organizations from 6 EU countries: the Institute of Conflict Resolution (Bulgaria), the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration Bremen (Germany), Restorative Thinking (UK), Restorative Justice Netherlands (the Netherlands), the European Public Law Organisation (Greece) and Innokut (Hungary).
RJE will also be supported by 10 Associate Partners who are experts in the area of victims and restorative justice: the University of Cyprus (Cyprus), the Register of Restorative Practitioners (UK), Restorative Justice International (USA), the Forgiveness Project (UK), G4S – HM Prison Altcourse (UK), the European Forum for Restorative Justice (Belgium), the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University (Canada), Prof. Gerry Johnstone (UK), Foresee (Hungary) and Ulster University (Northern Ireland).