MANILA, Oct. 5, 2011- Following the Vienna declaration wherein each country is to look for the possibility to adapt restorative justice paradigm, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (CBCP-ECPPC) is pushing for the adoption of restorative justice system in the country.
This advocacy which was launched in 2000 is already gaining ground, according to Rodolfo Diamante, Executive Secretary of ECPPC.
“This year 2011, we had the summit on people deprived of liberty where we engaged the criminal justice practitioners on adopting restorative justice. Almost all people now who are involved in the ministry is a considering restorative justice,” Diamante said.
“We need to set our mindset. People will always think that they can obtain justice by punishing people who have committed a violation of the law. Imprisoning them instead of working for the restoration of relationship that had been broken and working for alternatives like community base treatment particularly on detained prisoners must be done”, Diamante added
In the Philippines, ECPPC is working for the passage of a recognizance act that will decongest the country’s jail by 70%.
The Recognizance Act or the restorative justice applies to offenders who are waiting for their case to be heard in courts.
Those who are qualified for bail, instead of staying in jails, can stay with their families and continue working.
Some of the countries that have adopted restorative justice are Thailand where instead of putting people in prison, they put them in treatment centers; New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh are practicing community-based approach, an alternative for imprisonment.
In Costa Rica, detainees are given pre-trial release program and stay in their own communities while their court cases are in process.
In restorative justice, the offenders are given opportunity to repair the damage they’ve done through various creative ways. (Jandel Posion)