On the 4th of March 2023, Restorative Justice for Africa Initiative facilitated a restorative justice meeting between two parties in a criminal matter in Abuja.
The restorative process enabled the parties in the case to come together to address the harm committed while sourcing for viable methods for reconciliation and healing.
With more cases going through the restorative justice pathway, there would be a major decongestion of our courts and correctional centres which would lead to an improved justice system.
This begs the question, what is Victim Offender Mediation?
Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM): This restorative program, is by far one of the most frequently used. It brings together the victim, the offender, and trained Restorative Justice Practitioners to talk about the crime, its consequences, and the steps necessary to put things right in a safe and structured environment. Even more subtly, it can involve the exchange of letters between the victim and the offender instead of face-to-face interactions.
Victim Offender Mediation may be independent, relatively independent or dependent of the judicial process. It is independent when it is offered as an alternative to criminal litigation and it is relatively independent when it is offered as part of the regular criminal litigation, and the resolution reached may have an impact on the outcome of the case. It may also be dependent, and this is used after a criminal trial has taken place. In summary, Victim-Offender Mediation can appear as part of/ instead of/ on top of the formal criminal justice system.
The victim-offender mediation procedure can help both the victim and the offender feel more humanely connected to the criminal justice system. It enables more active participation of crime victims and community members in the judicial process, holds offenders directly accountable to the people they have harmed, and reduces reoffending behavior on the part of offenders.