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How to settle the Pacetti affair — without politics

Dec 10, 2014

from the article by Steve Sullivan in iPolitics:

The problem of Massimo Pacetti seems to be one with no obvious solution.

The Montreal MP was kicked out of the Liberal caucus by Justin Trudeau after an NDP MP came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. His accuser — like a lot of women in similar circumstances — has rejected going the justice system route. Parliament has no process in place to deal with such cases....

Mr. Pacetti's accuser has said that she doesn't want “vengeance … It is only a desire to be heard, a desire to have an apology, a desire, in the end, to heal.”

‘Restorative justice’ is a term widely known and just as widely misunderstood. It’s often portrayed by the tough-on-crime crowd as a “hug-a-thug” program. That’s not what it is, or what it does.

Restorative justice is not a program at all; it’s a way of looking at conflict. In the context of crime, the justice system cares only about answering three questions: What law was broken, who broke it and how should we punish? Restorative justice asks different, arguably more important questions: Who was harmed, what do they need now and who is responsible for meeting those needs?

In Mr. Pacetti's case, answering the first two questions appears easy: If the NDP MP was harmed, she needs to be heard from and to receive an apology. The sticky question is the last one — the one about responsibility. Mr. Pacetti denies any criminal wrongdoing — but restorative justice is not a criminal process. And it could offer Mr. Pacetti's accuser a safe opportunity to explain how she felt that night, while giving Mr. Pacetti a chance to hear her and possibly understand her point of view.

For this process to work, both parties have to agree to participate. It must be led by a trained, neutral third party — not an investigator or mediator, but a facilitator. It can be done in a variety of ways; it can include a face-to-face meeting, but it doesn't have to. It must be confidential and both parties must be able to speak freely.

And it works. Victims of crime — including women who have been sexually assaulted — have reported that the restorative justice process reduced their feelings of fear and stress and made them feel better....

Read the whole article.

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