IMPUNITY, TRUTH, JUSTICE & RECONCILIATION
Conceived as an alternative to traditional systems of criminal justice, the idea of restorative justice has been applied in a broad variety of situations, from victim-offender programmes in the context of youth justice procedures,to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
In most judicial criminal proceedings, the trial is centred on the offender, the crime, and punishment. From the WCC perspective, restorative justice includes all those methodologies - such as conferecing, mediation - that try to restore broken and wounded societies through procedures where a victim-centred process, community and dialogue are central elements. These practices have been quite effective at the micro or community levels. The question for the Impunity, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation (ITJR) programme is whether these methodologies can also be effective at the national and international levels. Some experiences, such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Guatemalan Truth Commission, showed that these commissions filled a space left vacant by criminal courts. The participation of churches and Christians and the role of theological reflection have been crucial in these experiences. Bishops Desmond Tutu and Juah Gerardi led these two commissions, and demonstrated the commissions' spiritual contribution to their societies.
The ITJR programme encourages churches, church leaders and individual Christians to engage in national and international processes that seek reconciliation and peace, and asks them to share their experiences through this page.
Young people watching a sports event in today's multiracial
South African society. Seven years after the fall of apartheid,
justice and reconciliation are still a distant dream for many.
Restorative justice: selective readings
"How restorative justice is changing the world",
"Overcoming violence: rethinking our ministry of reconciliation",
by Guillermo Kerber
in the March/April issue of New World Outlook,
the United Methodist Church (USA)
General Board of Global Ministries mission magazine