Malta – How Can a Restorative Justice approach work in our Current Criminal Justice System?


How can a Renewing Justice attack work in our current Criminal Justice System?

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Renewing Justice


Before the Restorative Justice Act was enacted by the Maltese Parliament in 2010 and later coming into force in 2012 with the publication of Legal Notice 43, condemnable justness was foremost and foremost a punishing system as a agency of retribution on behalf of society. Yet, in world Restorative Justice is non a recent belief that has developed during these last few old ages. It has been with us for ages and although we do non usually acknowledge this, it was and still is a ‘way of life’ and used by the general populace as a replacement to the punitory system with the purpose of penalizing wrongdoers.

“In some parts of the universe, modern authorities constructions have taken away from communities the power to decide differences and error. Yet, in many topographic points, traditional constructions are still working efficaciously. In the tribal agreements of some countries, for illustration, major offenses are settled by community seniors and household jobs are efficaciously resolved by household seniors, male and female.” ( Howard Zehr with Ali Gohar 2003 ) .

However, even though renewing justness is non a recent invention it still is instead new, given that, universally, condemnable justness was ab initio a punitory attack in supplying justness. As a affair of fact, renewing justness came approximately as a consequence to the failure of the punitory attack in cut downing recidivism. In the survey ‘Devils and Angels’ it is stated that“the punitory system failed due to the traditional penal countenances that included the prostration of the public assistance ideal and of the rehabilitative ideal”( Fionda, J. 2005 ) .

In existent fact, the punitory system was merely intended as a hindrance and besides as retributive for rejecting the wrongdoer from society. In add-on, it ignored the rights of the victim from holding a say. The function of the victim was merely to be called as a informant for the prosecution and so bury. Thus the intent as a informant was merely for the Court to set up if the accused is at mistake or otherwise. On the other manus, renewing justness is different from the punitory attack. The purpose is non merely to rehabilitate the wrongdoer but more significantly to include the victim as portion of the renewing theoretical account.

Ethical motives in Victim-Offender Mediation

Ethical motives in mediation procedure is the important facet to accomplish an indifferent solution that would ensue in a win-win state of affairs for both parties in struggle. The whole mediation procedure is based on moralss between both the go-between and the parties and the parties themselves. Apart from the word system, the most of import facet in the Restorative Justice Act of Malta is the victim-offender mediation. There are many critics that have uncertainties as to whether mediation between an wrongdoer and the victim can accomplish the desirable consequence and what type of understanding can be reached. Some of these critical issues include “Is mediation possible with individuals enduring from a personality upset? Can you intercede with sociopaths? Are there restrictions when offense is excessively terrible, and should we protect the victims against secondary victimization? ( Delvigne, A. 2005 ) .

Renewing Justice in Malta

Victim-offender mediation encourages rapprochement and declaration. Yet, non all victims or wrongdoers are eligible to go to victim-offender mediation. First of wholly, the wrongdoer must acknowledge that he had committed the offense in inquiry and must besides be willing to come in into mediation. The wrongdoer must voluntarily hold to take portion in the victim-offender mediation. The victim, merely like the wrongdoer, must besides voluntarily hold to take portion and be willing to come in into such mediation.

Whether victim-offender mediation takes topographic point or non will be specifically determined by the nature of the offense, including the degree of injury caused by the attacker or the force involved in its committee harmonizing to the legal ordinances. Not all victims and wrongdoers are eligible to victim-offender mediation and history will be taken of the victims’ motives in run intoing up with the wrongdoer and vice-versa.

The personal features of both the wrongdoer and the victim will be considered every bit good as the impact of the offense as seen by both the wrongdoer and the victim. The possibility of psychological reverberations on the victim is besides taken into history every bit good as the offender’s compunction for his/her actions.

What is interesting is that victim-offender mediation takes topographic point without the presence of any legal advocate. There are three cases where mediation should be terminated. It should come to an terminal when an understanding is reached ; when an understanding can non be reached ; or when either of the parties does non wish to transport on with the mediation. The understanding reached can include compensation for amendss, non-pecuniary compensation, community service or even rehabilitation plans and formal apologies. The indispensable facet remains that the victim and the wrongdoer should make a consensus following a negotiation procedure of a reparation understanding.

An effectual Restorative Justice attack

Renewing justness, unlike the punitory system, advocates forgiveness, mending, reintegration, rapprochement and is specifically aimed at wrongdoers and victims. It besides offers support to wrongdoers along with a concluding declaration to victims and besides beef uping the relationships in communities.

Several states have reported that during these last old ages at that place was an addition in the figure of victims of offense who have gave their consent in run intoing in the flesh with the wrongdoer who had caused them injury. ( OVC, 2000 ) . The chief ground for offense victims to run into their wrongdoers is basically to allow them cognize how the offense has affected their unrecorded ; to inquire the inquiry ‘why’ they were victimized and other straitening inquiries which every victim has a right for an reply.

Furthermore, these meetings will do influence so that wrongdoers will be held accountable for the offense they have caused. A survey carried out by Dussich and Schellenberg ( 2010 ) revealed that administrations in assorted states, straight involved in the condemnable justness system including the constabulary, jurisprudence tribunals, and probation officers have all praised and supported the usage of victim-offender mediation as a realistic option to the traditional requital that every State on behalf of society demand against wrongdoers. In position of this turning demand, the clip has come for the Maltese legislative assembly and bench to admit and advance the significance of victim-offender mediation by chiefly giving it the value and precedence it deserves towards victims and later to look at the demands of the wrongdoers.

Victim-offender mediation should non be classified or linked as portion of the civil, commercial, or household mediation. These classs of mediation are wholly distinguishable from each other and should be regarded and dealt with as such. In Malta, mediation in household difference state of affairss such as matrimony separation or child detention personal businesss is compulsory and in clip it has become accepted as a feasible option to tribunal judicial proceeding. Nevertheless, mediation in civil, commercial, and societal differences including victim-offender mediation is presently applied merely in theory and non-existent in world. The differentiation between the assorted civil signifiers of mediation against that of VOM is that in civil related issues the participants are referred to as controversialists and the aim for mediation is that of making a common declaration by via media that will help both parties every bit. Therefore both controversialists are considered as equally balanced and are expected to lend on the same degree to decide their struggle. In kernel, the purpose of these colonies focuses on the struggle with small weight given on the participants emotional facets or how the declaration is traveling to impact their lives.

On the contrary, in mediation, the participants should non be considered as controversialists. The power of instability between the victim and wrongdoer already exists and the wrongdoer is already regarded as guilty for holding committed a condemnable offense. On the other manus, the other party is considered and labelled as the victim of the offense. This means that mediation will non concentrate on the guilt or the degree of via media to be reached. Victims of offense should non concentrate on negociating the type of damages to be granted, but VOM is chiefly to be regarded as a duologue between the victim and the wrongdoer, where the involvements and demands of the victim should be given precedency, followed by the demands of the wrongdoer and the type of damages or fiscal compensation to be reached as portion of the understanding. Nevertheless it should be maintained that the understanding is merely to be regarded as a secondary issue whilst the aim of originating a VOM meeting should stay as a renewing justness duologue between the victim and the wrongdoer. Empathy towards the wrongdoer is besides critical as the duologue should be guided in order to forestall future condemnable behavior by the wrongdoer. Harmonizing to Unmbreit ( 2001 ) , VOM “provides interested victims the chance to run into with the juvenile or grownup wrongdoer, in a safe and structured scene, with the end of keeping the wrongdoer straight accountable for their behavior while supplying of import aid and compensation to the victim.”

The Way Forward

As I have already explained, the intent of victim-offender mediation is to offer a struggle declaration process in reconstructing the emotional and physical injury caused by the offense. Although in our statute law victim-offender mediation is listed as Part VI of the Legal Act under the header of ‘Establishment of the Victim Support Unit’ , it is non clear whether Renewing Justice in specifically intended towards society, the victim, or the wrongdoer. Our legislative representatives appear to be more inclined towards taking the way of society-centred attack. Of class, one of the purposes for renewing justness is intended to extinguish or at least control recidivism, nevertheless in order to get at this stage, the chief precedence should be focused towards a victim-centred attack. This is supported by research that suggests that mediation should be person-centred instead than position-centred communicating. ( Motchnig R. , 2014 ) .

The safety and well-being of the victim is to be placed high in the duologue docket. It is the appointive mediator’s function who is responsible for the security, protection and public assistance of the victim. The victim should experience out of injury ‘s manner during the full procedure and hence the location for the meeting with the wrongdoer should be conducted in a topographic point where the victim deems secure. Individual pre-mediation meetings are of critical importance, so that the go-between would be able to transport out a testing procedure on both the victim and the wrongdoer with the aim to measure whether they are suited of stand foring themselves and competent to pass on their demands. Furthermore the go-between would besides be in a sensible place to explicate to each party in a private mode the regulations and guidelines to be followed.

The go-between should first near the wrongdoer to verify that s/he is giving his or her consent to run into with the victim. It would be a instance re-victimisation, if the go-between first discusses this issue with the victim and after holding to run into the wrongdoer, finds out that the wrongdoer has turned down the petition for VOM. Active hearing, authorization and empathy should be an ongoing procedure throughout the mediation Sessionss in order to promote the victims to show their demands, to take part efficaciously, and to help the wrongdoer to listen to what the victim has to state. Author Kenneth A. Wells ( 2008 ) quotes that “A good hearer attempts to understand what the other individual is stating. In the terminal he may differ aggressively, but because he disagrees, he wants to cognize precisely what it is he is differing with.”

Apart from the location site, the waiting country and the seating scene is besides portion of the logistics that the go-between needs to fix in front of the meeting. The victim should be advised to be seated near to the issue door and sooner the wrongdoer and victim are to be seated at the opposite terminals of the tabular array with the go-between seated to the side of each party. Whatever the seating agreement is, the result should be that the victim feels safe and secure. The victim should besides be given the chance to take whether he/she wants to talk foremost or to allow the wrongdoer initiate the duologue by traveling through the sequence of events that led to the offense. Some victims tend to wait before they speak up with the purpose to get the better of any power of instability that might be. Harmonizing to Ken Braun ( n.d. ) “No conversation is excessively hard to hold but sometimes people need assist holding that conversation.”

I believe that the continuance of the full mediation should last non more than three Sessionss. If after these Sessionss, the go-between feels that there are no developments or that a declaration is still far from being reached, than it would be ineffectual to go on prosecuting for an understanding and it would be better to halt mediation. As for damages, it is indispensable that the understanding program must be negotiated between the victim and the wrongdoer. It could be pecuniary or non-pecuniary compensation and some victims might be satisfied that the wrongdoer follow a rehabilitation programme or execute community work. For others a simple missive of apology would be all that they require or inquire for. No affair what the manner of damages is, the bottom line is that such an understanding should be lawfully adhering either by the tribunal of jurisprudence or signed by the parties themselves and approved by the victim-offender mediation commission. In order to accomplish this, parliament is to rectify and amend the Restorative Justice act so that justness with victims would be prevailed. As the jurisprudence stands today, an understanding reached by the parties is non adhering and this could be one of the grounds why VOM is non acknowledged or recognised by victims or professionals working in the field of the condemnable justness system.

Another attack for renewing justness to be effectual is for the go-between to maintain in contact with both the victim and the wrongdoer after the terminal of mediation, at least for a period of clip. A short term followup is sometimes all that is required for victims to experience secure and to go on taking a normal life. The victim-offender mediation commission should include as portion of its duty the function of an consultative board where go-betweens can hold a point of mention to consult and discourse troubles that they may meet with their supervisors. This requires competent and qualified appointed commission members who are knowing in legal facets, mediation, and psychological aid.


Personally, I feel that the past and present appointed VOM commission have so far failed in their mission to integrate the Restorative Justice act as an built-in portion of our condemnable justness system. In order to decide this restriction, the commission is required to earnestly advance VOM. After all, article 27 ( 1 ) ( g ) of Chapter 516 of the Laws of Malta clearly states that one of the maps of the victim support unit is the publicity of victim-offender mediation as a agency of reparation for both the victim and the wrongdoer at any phase of the condemnable justness procedure. This can be achieved by organizing and setting-up conferences and seminars to all stakeholders within the condemnable justness system, and besides to advance this pattern throughout the media for the information of the general populace.

In decision, if victim-offender mediation is non given the chance by the Magistrates and Judges in mentioning eligible instances to the commission for rating, it will stay hard to analyze the benefits that this system claims to supply and most of all whether it would be constructive in heightening our condemnable justness system. If on the other manus the state of affairs remains status-quo with the same attack as presently exists, than VOM will most decidedly remain missing and non-existent in our legal system.


Braun, K. ( n.d. ) . “Victim Offender Reconciliation Program” . Community Mediation Services of Polk County. Beaver state: Dallas.

Delvigne, A. ( 2005 ) , 7th International Conference on Conferencing, Circles and Other Renewing Practices: Manchester, England.

Dussich, J. P. , Schellenberg, J. ( 2010 ) . “The Promise of Restorative Justice: New Approaches for Criminal Justice and Beyond” . pp. 121-123. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Fionda, J. ( 2005 ) . “Devils and Angels” . Hart Publishing, p. 175.

Howard, Z. , Gohar, A. ( 2003 ) . “The Small Book of Restorative Justice” . Good Books Publication, USA.

Motschnig, R. , Nykl, L. ( 2014 ) . “Person-Centred Communication: Theory, Skills and Practice” . pp. 55-56. Berkshire: England. Open University Press.

Office of Victims of Crime ( 2000 ) . “Guidelines for Victim-Sensitive / Victim-Offender Mediation: Renewing Justice through Dialogue” . Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: //

Restorative Justice Act ( 2010 ) . Chapter 516 of the Laws of Malta.

Umbreit, M. ( 2001 ) . “The enchiridion of victim wrongdoer mediation” . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.



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