10. NATIONAL CONTACT POINTS FOR RESTORATIVE
Draft Council Decision setting up a European network of national contact points for restorative justice.
|Legal base:||Article 34(2)(c) EU;
|Document originated:||13 June 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:
||10 July 2002|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 2 August 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; further information requested
10.1 This proposal is one of a number of recent measures
designed to promote judicial co-operation between Member States
in criminal matters.
10.2 Article 1 provides for the establishment of a European
network of a national contact points for restorative justice.
10.3 Article 2 defines the concept of 'restorative justice'
"Restorative justice denotes a broad approach in which
material and immaterial reparation of the disturbed relationship
between the victim, the community and the offender constitutes
a general, guiding principle in the criminal justice process.
Restorative justice covers a body of ideas that is relevant to
various forms of sanctioning and conflict handling in the successive
stages of or in connection with the criminal justice process.
Although thus far restorative justice has mainly found expression
in different forms of mediation between victims and offenders
(victim - offender mediation), other methods are increasingly
being applied, like for example family group conferencing. Governments,
police, criminal justice agencies, specialised authorities, victim
aid and support services, offender aid services, researchers and
the public are all implied in this process."
10.4 Article 3 states the objective of the network as
contributing "to developing, supporting and promoting the
various aspects of restorative justice within the Member States
as well as at the Union level", in particular the provision
of "legislative support and support to criminal justice authorities."
10.5 To achieve that objective Article 4 sets out specific
tasks for the network. First, the network is to act as an "information
point" for the collection, analysis and evaluation of information
on existing restorative justice practices in Member States. Secondly,
the network is to develop mechanisms for the distribution of that
information to governments from regional to international level
as well as to other groups and institutions with a legitimate
interest in restorative justice. Thirdly, it is to facilitate
the mutual exchange of information between such authorities, institutions
and groups. Fourthly, it is to promote research on the topic of
restorative justice. Fifthly, it is to develop areas for training
and evaluation in the field of restorative justice.
10.6 Article 5 states that in pursuing the above tasks
the network shall pay particular attention to "the co-operation
and the stimulation of exchange with non-governmental organisations
working in the field of restorative justice." To this end
it is provided that the network may decide to call upon the know-how
and experience of non-governmental organisations working in the
field of restorative justice and that it may "even decide
to co-operate in a more structural way."
10.7 Articles 6 to 10 deal with the composition and procedural
rules for the network. Article 6 provides that the network shall
consist of contact points. Each Member State may designate up
to three contact points while the European Commission and accession
countries may also designate one contact point each. The remaining
provisions concern rules of procedure, regular reports by the
network and evaluation.
The Government's view
10.8 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 21 August 2002
the Minister (Mr. Bob Ainsworth) expresses the Government's general
support for the proposed measure as a means of facilitating the
exchange of information and research on restorative justice. The
Minister states that restorative justice is already used within
the youth justice system in England and Wales, and that the Government
is considering extending the use of restorative justice across
all age groups and to all stages of the criminal process. The
Minister emphasises that comparative information and research
on restorative justice could also assist the development of the
Government's strategy in this regard.
10.9 However, the Minister expresses the Government's
concern at the extent of the proposals for the creation and functioning
of the Network. In particular, he states, the Government has "doubts
as to whether it is necessary to create a new body for the purpose
of facilitating co-operation in this area, particularly since
this proposal would also entail the creation of a Secretariat,
annual programme and financial plan. Such action was not envisaged
at the Tampere European Council, which established the current
JHA work programme, and we do not see that it is justified at
present. We take the view that the purpose of the Network can
be achieved, at least initially, simply through the nomination
of expert contact points. Once established, an assessment can
be made of whether to further develop the Network in the manner
proposed in the Council Decision. We intend to raise these concerns
during the course of negotiations".
10.10 The Minister states that the costs of the proposed
measure are not clear, although they will include the cost of
three designated contact individuals to liaise with the Network
and to spend time exchanging information and organising and attending
10.11 Finally, the Minister states that before reaching
any conclusion the Government will consult appropriate NGOs.
10.12 We share the Government's concerns about the
scope of this proposal, as well as its financial implications.
In particular we ask the Minister whether the Government is prepared
to oppose the proposed measure so long as it envisages the creation
of a new body with its own secretariat, and, if not, whether the
Government will press for clarification of the financial implications
of the proposal.
10.13 We are concerned moreover about the vagueness
of the proposal and in particular of the proposed definition of
'restorative justice' in Article 2. We ask the Minister to explain
what precisely is meant by "a broad approach in which material
and immaterial reparation of the disturbed relationship between
the victim, the community and the offender constitutes a general,
guiding principle in the criminal justice process."
10.14 We shall hold the document under scrutiny until
we have the Minister's reply.