Need to Build up Social Pressure for Implementation of Restorative Justice: SPARC Conference on Restorative Justice System
There is a dire need to institutionalize the efforts for implementation of restorative justice, said the speakers at the one-day conference on the ‘Restorative Justice System: A missing approach in the justice system of Pakistan’ organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) according to a press statement. The objective of the conference was to initiate a debate on the existing justice system, promote the culture of restorative justice for juveniles and find gaps and lacunae in the justice system of Pakistan.
In his welcome note, Mr. Arshad Mahmood, Executive Director SPARC said that restorative justice system is a peaceful approach that brings justice for the victims and involves offenders to own responsibility of the offences they have committed and works to repair, reconcile and rebuild relationships between victims and offenders.
Mr. Riaz Fatyana, Chairperson National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights reflected on the effects and implications of the 18th Amendment and the age of criminal responsibility. He lamented that the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000 exists only on paper and that jails are transforming the minor offenders into professional criminals.
Discussing the approaches and methodologies to restorative justice, Mr. Abdullah Khoso National Manager Juvenile Justice SPARC shared the status of probation in Pakistan stating that there are 37 probation officers (PO) in Punjab with 82 Juvenile Prisoners (JP), in Sindh there are 3 POs and 105 JPs, in Khyber PakhtunKhwa there are 22 POs and 2 JPs while in Balochistan there are 11 POs and 2 JPs.
Mr. Ali Gohar, Advisor Just Peace International (JPI) suggested that SPARC establish a mediation centre in collaboration with JPI.
Mr. Anees Jillani, SPARC board member who chaired the first session, shared that by 2030, Pakistan’s population will be doubled, and because of limited resources an increase in poverty will result in the increased crime rate therefore diversion is very essential at the moment.
Mr. Abdul Khalique Sheikh, DIG Sindh Police gave his expert opinion on the impact of the adult criminal justice system on children who come into conflict with the law. He said that children are developmentally different from adults therefore they are more amenable to rehabilitation.
Mohammad Hassan Mangi, Director NCCWD discussed implications of jirga system saying that in absence of any Juvenile Courts, there are a number of cases pending in the Courts. He regretted that the social pressures and circumstances are affecting the lives and future of the children.
Mr. Ehsan Sadiq, Assistant Inspector General of Islamabad Capital Territory Police, while discussing the challenges of institutionalizing restorative justice system said that the criminal justice system focuses on the offender and there is little scope for rehabilitation.
Dr. Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani, Director Karachi Center for Dispute Resolution said that we need to build up combined social pressure for legislation. Pakistan being a member of international community is constitutionally committed to adhere and ratify international covenants, conventions or treaties and to implement their provisions in letter and spirit, he said.
Ms. Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Human Rights in her keynote address regretted that we did not focus on our children therefore we are bearing the consequences. She stressed that rehabilitation is needed for the children involved in the crimes. She said that the existing laws need implementation as well as people need to be sensitized.