Restorative justice model will bring people together – Attorney General

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, MP, said Restorative Justice will bring about significant changes in communities.

The AG, along with Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal, met with stakeholders in Anna Regina, Region Two on Saturday. The engagement was part of an outreach that also addressed land title concerns.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, MP, addressing the audience at the stakeholder engagement.

According to Canada’s justice sector, restorative justice is “an approach to justice that seeks to repair harm by providing an opportunity for those harmed, and those who take responsibility for the harm to communicate about and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime.”

The system is founded on the belief that crime is a violation of people’s rights and relationships, as well as principles of respect, empathy, and inclusion.

The approach also seeks to mitigate the prison population and avoid recidivism.

Speaking to attendees which included teachers, army and police officers, toshaos and religious leaders, Minister Nandlall highlighted that restorative justice has a two-fold purpose.

“Restorative justice essentially carries two main planks. One is to go and find the root cause of the crime…restorative justice deals with that. Pull the problem from the root, so the possibility of a recurrence becomes more and more remote, and hopefully disappears altogether,” the AG explained.

The minister outlined the second objective of implementing a restorative justice model, as it is expected to bring persons together and create a more cohesive society.

“Restorative justice also deals with bringing the victim, and the perpetrator together, bringing them together…and working with them, talking out the issues, see if they can forgive each other, see if they can interact, they can continue to engage, get an apology, get remorse. That extinguishes the hate, the anger, the ill-feeling, it dissipates it,” Minister Nandlall detailed.

Additionally, the Attorney General highlighted that the ministry has already executed training workshops for senior officials in various communities who are now equipped to hold consultations with other stakeholders on further implementing restorative justice.

The 11th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice highlighted that more than 80 countries have already embraced “some form of restorative practice in addressing crime”, expressing its belief that the number of countries may now be closer to 100.

Two months ago, the Parliament Office opened the door for members of the public, organisations and civil society groups to share their opinions on the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) (Amendment) Bill 2020- Bill No. 2 of 2021, which seeks to remove custodial sentences for small amounts of marijuana.

This proposed amendment forms part of the restorative justice model that the PPP/C government is embracing.

A total of $4.7 billion has already been allocated in this year’s budget to further strengthen the justice sector in Guyana.