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Lima Declaration on Restorative Juvenile Justice

Instrument Type

Declarations, Resolutions and Advisory Opinions

Date Authored

November 2009

Monitoring Body

Terre des Hommes, Suisse
Also:  First World Congress on Restorative Justice

Scope

International

Countries

None selected

Related Instruments

Summary

The Declaration underlines that (the practice of) Restorative Juvenile Justice (RJJ) has to respect the fundamental rights of children as enshrined in the CRC, more specifically elaborated for Juvenile Justice in General Comment No 10 of the CRC Committee, and has to be in full compliance with the relevant international standards such as the UN Minimum Standards on the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) and other relevant recommendations and guidelines.

Download the full Declaration here

Lima Declaration on Restorative Juvenile Justice

Introduction

The First World Congress on Restorative Juvenile Justice was organised by the Foundation Terre des
hommes (Lausanne), in cooperation with the Public Prosecutor of Peru, the Pontificia Universidad
Católica of Perú and the Association Encuentros-Casa de la Juventud and was held in Lima from 4-7
November 2009. About 1000 participants from 63 countries on five different continents representing
governments, the judiciary, civil society, in particular NGO’s, and organisations of professionals
working with or for children, the media, the academic world and UN agencies attended the Congress to
discuss different aspects of restorative juvenile justice guided by the objectives of the Congress:
- to reflect upon the concept of Restorative Juvenile Justice and to undertake a critical viability
analysis;
- to examine the methodology and instruments of Restorative Juvenile Justice;
- to evaluate the situation of the victim in Restorative Juvenile Justice and the need for her/his
protection and reparation of damages;
- to exchange experiences and lessons learned and good practices of Restorative Juvenile Justice
worldwide;
- to elaborate and present some recommendations for the development and implementation of
Restorative Juvenile Justice.

In the discussions in panel sessions, specialised conferences and workshops the participants were
guided and inspired by, amongst others, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and General
Comment no. 10 of the CRC Committee on “The rights of the child in juvenile justice”, the African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration
of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules), Resolution 2002/12 of the UN Economic and Social Council
(ECOSOC) on Basic Principles on the use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters, the
UN Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crimes (ECOSOC
Resolution 2005/20), the Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes of the UN Office against Drugs
and Crimes (UNODC) and relevant regional human rights instruments.
This Declaration reflects the deliberations during the Congress and contains a set of
Recommendations for further actions to promote, develop and implement the restorative approach as
an integral part of Juvenile Justice.

Basic Rights of the Child and the Principles of Juvenile Justice

The participants to the Congress want to underline that (the practice of) Restorative Juvenile Justice
(RJJ) has to respect the fundamental rights of children as enshrined in the CRC , more specifically
elaborated for Juvenile Justice in General Comment No 10 of the CRC Committee, and has to be in full
compliance with the relevant international standards such as the UN Minimum Standards on the
Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) and the recommendations and guidelines mentioned
above .

The participants in the Congress recall in particular the aims of Juvenile Justice as set out in art. 40 (1)
CRC:
- to treat children in conflict with the law in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s
sense of dignity and worth;
- to reinforce the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others;
- to promote the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.
- In their efforts to achieve these goals States shall take into account the relevant provisions of
international instruments, such as the rule that retro-active justice is prohibited, and shall in
particular ensure the implementation of the following rights of the child:
- the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law;
- the right to be promptly informed about the charges against her or him;
- the right to legal or other appropriate assistance;
- the right to have the matter determined without delay by a competent, independent and impartial
authority or legal body;
- the right not to be compelled to give testimony or to confess guilt;
- the right to examine or have examined adverse witnesses;
- the right to have the decision that the child has committed the alleged offence and the measures
imposed reviewed by a higher authority or legal body;
- the right to have free assistance of an interpreter;
- the right to full respect of her or his privacy at all stages of the proceedings.

Furthermore the CRC requires States to promote the establishment of laws, procedures, authorities
and institutions specifically applicable to children in conflict with the law, the establishment of a
minimum age of criminal responsibility and to take measures (when appropriate and desirable) for
dealing with these children without resorting to judicial proceedings while ensuring that human rights
and legal safeguards are fully respected. In order to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner
appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence the States
shall make available a comprehensive set of measures such as supervision, counselling, probation,
educational and vocational training programmes and other alternatives to institutional care. This is in
line with the rule in art.37 (b) CRC that deprivation of liberty shall be used only as a measure of last
resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. This article contains further specific rules for the
use of this measure of last resort.

Major Concerns

During the Congress, and with references to the rights and principles mentioned earlier, participants
expressed their serious concerns at the status and the quality of the rules and practices in Juvenile
Justice. Many children in conflict with the law do not receive justice in accordance with the provisions of
the CRC and other relevant international standards. They are (too) often deprived of their liberty either
in the context of pre-trial detention (often without any information about the charges against them) or in
the context of the execution of a sentence. Furthermore concerns were expressed, based on research,
regarding the limited or even negative contributions of the classical sanctions, in particular of the
deprivation of liberty, to achieving the aims of juvenile justice as set out in art. 40 (1) CRC. Efforts to
deal with children in conflict with the law without resorting to judicial proceedings, as clearly
recommended in the CRC, are in many countries either very limited or even non-existent. However,available information shows that alternative measures, including restorative justice programmes, do
contribute to the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society

Restorative Juvenile Justice

a. The concept of Restorative Justice

Restorative juvenile justice is a way of treating children in conflict with the law with the aim of repairing
the individual, relational and social harm caused by the committed offence. This aim requires a process
in which the child offender, the victim and, where appropriate other individuals and members of the
community participate actively together in the resolution of matters arising from the offence. There is
not one single model for practicing this restorative justice approach.
Experience in different countries shows that restorative juvenile justice is practiced via mediation,
family group conferencing, sentencing circles and other cultural specific approaches.

Where possible policies to introduce restorative juvenile justice should build on and benefit from
already existing traditional and non-harmful practices of treating children in conflict with the law.

The outcome of this process includes responses and programmes such as reparation, restitution and
community service, aimed at meeting the individual and collective needs and responsibilities of the
parties and achieving the reintegration of the victim and the offender.

Restorative juvenile justice should not be limited to minor offences or first offenders only. Experience
shows that restorative juvenile justice can also play an important role in addressing serious crimes. For
example, in many armed conflicts children are used as child soldiers and forced to commit
unspeakable crimes targeting especially their own family members, their neighbours and their
community. Restorative justice is very often the only way of bringing reconciliation to victims and
offenders alike in a war-torn society where victims of offences suffer as do child offenders, having been
forced to commit offences. Without such reconciliation the reintegration of child soldiers in their
communities is not possible, much to the detriment of the then ostracised child as well as the
community bereft of workforce and under threat of criminal behaviour of the excluded child.

Furthermore it is important not to limit the restorative practice to isolated cases in juvenile justice but to
also develop and implement a policy of pro-active restorative practices e.g. in schools.

b. The role of the restorative approach in juvenile justice.

Restorative justice is a way of treating children in conflict with the law which contributes to the child’s
reintegration into society and supports the child in assuming a constructive role in society. It takes the
child’s responsibility seriously and by doing so it can strengthen the child’s respect for and
understanding of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, in particular of the victim and
other affected members of the community. Restorative justice is an approach that promotes the child’s
sense of dignity and worth.

Restorative justice should be applicable in all stages of the juvenile justice process, either as an
alternative measure or in addition to other measures. At the police level one of the options should be a
referral of the child to a process of restorative justice. Police officers should be well trained and
instructed regarding the use of this option and where appropriate special attention must be given to
possible abuse of this and other forms of diversion. If the case has to be reported to the prosecutor
he/she should consider, before any other action the possibility of a restorative justice process as a way
to deal with the case without resorting to judicial
proceedings. Before using police custody or pre-trial detention alternative measures, including the use
of restorative justice, should be used to avoid this deprivation of liberty.

When the case has been brought before the court the juvenile judge should, to the maximum extent
possible, explore and initiate a process of restorative justice as an alternative to other possible
sanctions or measures. Finally and based on experiences in some countries: restorative justice can
and should be used, when possible, as part of the treatment of children placed in juvenile justice
institutions. In other words: restorative justice should be an integral part of the juvenile justice system
that is in full compliance with the provisions of the CRC and related international standards; restorative
justice should be offered as an option to all persons affected by the crime, including direct victims/their
families and the offenders/their families. In that regard it is important to include effective prevention
programmes, with special attention and support for the role of parents and the communities, in the
national juvenile justice policy. States should consider establishing a national body with the mandate to
coordinate and supervise the implementation of juvenile justice, including restorative justice
programmes.

As part of the introduction of restorative juvenile justice programmes it is very important that the public
at large, professionals working with or for children in conflict with the law and politicians receive
information via awareness raising campaigns organised by the State, with the support of NGO’s where
appropriate, not as a one time event but should be repeated with a regular interval. This informative
advocacy should, amongst others aspects, present the benefits of restorative justice as a “victim-
centred” approach. The media should be involved in these campaigns with attention not only for the
important role of local radio but also for the growing importance of new communication tools such as
internet and mobile phones.

c. The rules for the use of restorative justice.

The use of restorative justice should be governed by the basic principles on the use of restorative
justice programmes in criminal matters as set out in ECOSOC Resolution 2002/12 such as:
Restorative juvenile justice should only be used when there is sufficient evidence to charge the child
offender and with the free and voluntary consent of the victim and the offender. The offender and the
victim should be allowed to withdraw such consent at any time during the process of restorative justice.
Agreements should be arrived at voluntarily and should contain only reasonable and proportionate
obligations. Neither the victim nor the child offender should be coerced or induced by unfair means to
participate in the restorative process or to accept the restorative outcomes.
Disparities leading to power imbalances, as well as cultural differences among the parties should be
taken into consideration.

The victim and the child offender should, subject to national law, have the right to legal counselling and
the child offender and the child victim should have the right to the assistance of a parent or guardian.
The victim and the child offender should be fully informed of their rights, the nature of the restorative
process and the possible consequences of their decision.
The outcome of the process should have the same status as any other judicial decision or judgement
and should preclude prosecution in respect to the same facts.

d. Recommendations for actions.

1. We call on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to systematically recommend the States
  Parties to the CRC to undertake the necessary measures for the integration of restorative processes as
 a possibility for dealing with children in conflict with the law at all stages of the administration of juvenile
justice.

2. We recommend the Interagency Panel on Juvenile Justice to further strengthen its technical
  assistance for the support of governments in their efforts to develop and implement the restorative
 juvenile justice approach, while referring to Resolution 2009/26 of the ECOSOC encouraging UN
Member States to provide this Interagency Panel with the necessary resources and to fully cooperate
with the Panel.

3. We recommend the UN Office against Drugs and Crime to increase, as a follow-up to its Handbook
  on Restorative Justice Programmes, its efforts to promote the use of restorative justice approaches in
 dealing with offences committed by children and to assist Sates in their efforts in this regard where
appropriate.

4. We recommend UNICEF to continue and increase its efforts to support and provide technical
  assistance to States in the development and implementation of restorative juvenile justice programmes,
 in particular by providing training to all actors in the field of juvenile justice.

5. We recommend States parties to the CRC and States that signed the CRC to undertake, as part of
  their comprehensive national policy on juvenile justice, the necessary measures to include restorative
 justice programmes as an integral part of the administration of juvenile justice while taking into account
the observations, suggestions and rules above under a – c, and to call on the Interagency Panel on
 Juvenile Justice, UNICEF and UNODC for technical assistance in that regard. These measures should
include awareness raising campaigns, with the involvement of national and local media, informing the
public about the nature and the benefits for the victim, the offender and the society of a restorative
juvenile justice policy and the promotion of the involvement of parents and the community.

6. We recommend States engaging in a process of introducing restorative juvenile justice to
  undertake pilot projects together with a thorough evaluation and to decide on the basis of the outcome
 of these projects on the country wide introduction of restorative juvenile justice and on the legislative
measures to provide a solid basis for a sustainable practice of restorative juvenile justice as the main
characteristic of its juvenile justice system, while ensuring that human rights and legal safeguards are
fully respected in line with the basic principles adopted by ECOSOC.

7. We recommend States when developing and implementing restorative juvenile justice to pay
  special attention to vulnerable children such as children in street situation, taking into account their
 specific daily reality, their problems and needs and children and adolescents involved in gangs, armed
groups and paramilitary groups.

8. We recommend States to develop and implement adequate and ongoing training for all the key
  actors in the administration of juvenile justice, with special attention for changing the conventional legal
 approach and to establish and/or support the services necessary for implementing restorative juvenile
justice programmes while using existing networks as much as possible. These services should practice
an interdisciplinary approach, for instance by establishing multidisciplinary teams, in conducting
restorative juvenile justice among others with the view to address also the emotional needs of both the
victim and the juvenile offenders.

9. We recommend States to establish or strengthen the systematic collection of data on the nature of
  and the responses to juvenile delinquency in order to inform its policies in that regard with a view to
 adjusting them as necessary and to conducting or supporting research on the nature and the impact of
the various responses to juvenile delinquency.
10. We recommend States and the relevant UN agencies to initiate and/or support the development
   and implementation of regional projects of restorative juvenile justice in different parts of the world.