Peace through dialogue between offenders and victims.
In the process victims play an active role while offenders take the responsibility for their action and repair the harm they have done while the whole community is involved. Justice is done to the individuals since felony or wrongdoing is not considered as an act against the state rather against individuals and the entire community. It is rather a process of forgiving and repentance for restoring trust in the community. This is restorative justice.
Anytime we read about restorative justice in the news, could be as part of the peace process in Colombia, of the pacification process in Ireland or as a way to decrease the workload of the criminal justice courts, to prevent the school-to-jail path or to prevent minor offences from growing grater, we think how this fosters truly democratic participatory processes. How restorative justice helps in creating inclusive community, institutions and widens participation in democracy.
As restorative justice, restorative democracy is the way for restoring trust and hope through dialogue and inclusive participation. It works only if the social pact, the constitution, is applied and if institutions are proving they are effectively working.
During democratic crises, where governance has been weakened by rampant corruption, impunity, growing people’s mistrust in the work of institution, widening socio-economic gaps, low level of inclusion in the democratic processes, democratic awakening is a way to react. What’s next? How to restore people’s trust and stronger institutions? Guatemala, Brazil and Venezuela are experiencing ongoing cases showing how democracy by the people is still alive and powerful to bring changes. In a time of democratic crises all are offenders and victims politically speaking (not before the justice system); dialogue and participation at all levels will define the new people’s leadership. Restorative democracy works by taking politics back to the ágora, back to a human and inclusive dialogue, back to dignity. As in the case of restorative justice applied in a small community, restorative democracy works if all are participating. Let’s work to restore democracy.