European justice ministers adopt ‘Venice Declaration’ on restorative justice

European justice ministers adopt 'Venice Declaration' on restorative justice

James Browne

National action plans to develop and use restorative justice should be developed and implemented by all Council of Europe countries, a conference of European justice ministers has concluded.

The Council of Europe conference of justice ministers, held in Venice from Monday to Tuesday, adopted the “Venice Declaration” after a discussion about the use of restorative justice.

The conference considered the implementation of a 2018 recommendation from the Council of Europe committee on ministers concerning restorative justice in criminal matters.

James Browne, Ireland’s minister of state with responsibility for law reform, told the conference: “Restorative justice is a criminal justice process, which has been shown, through mediation, to help victims recover from crime, reduce reoffending and save public resources.

“Ireland’s continuing commitment to restorative justice is reflected in the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027, which includes a strong focus on restorative practices throughout.

“The guiding principles of the strategy state that victims of crime should have an opportunity to have their voices heard, and, where appropriate, to take part in restorative processes.”

He added: “Restorative practices have an invaluable role to play in supporting a process of discouraging offenders from re-offending. ‘Making amends’ to victims and communities can help offenders develop a pro-social identity that is conducive to change.

“If restorative justice enables an offender to accept responsibility for their actions, they have the opportunity to reform themselves, to develop maturity, to ‘make good’ to their victims, and to repair and foster wider social bonds.

“The Department of Justice Action Plan for 2021 includes restorative justice among its nine strategic objectives to be prioritised over the next three years.”

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