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Restorative Justice In Russia

De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, England, has been commissioned to assist with the development of restorative justice practice in the Russian Federation by the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). Working in partnership with The Center for Legal and Judicial Reform (CLJR), a Moscow based NGO, the project team will be developing a number of pilot sites for the establishment of effective practice in diverting young offenders from the criminal justice system. This article was written by Divender Curry of De Montfort University.

In 2001, the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, England to assist with the development of restorative justice practice in the Russian Federation. The aim of the project is to establish best practices within Russia and to institutionalise restorative justice practice within the criminal justice system through legislative change. The focus is on juvenile justice with the goal of reducing the incarceration and recidivism rates of juveniles. The project began 1 June 2002, with DMU acting as project consultants. It will last for three years with the DFID initially funding the project for one year and two further years’ funding dependent upon progress. 

Two departments from DMU are involved with this project: the Centre for Social Action (CSA) and the Community & Criminal Justice Division (CCJD). Both departments are based within the Faculty of Health and Community Studies of the School of Health and Applied Social Sciences. The CSA is a training, consulting, service developing, researching and publishing unit. It has been working in the former Soviet Union since 1992 with activities concentrated in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.  The CCJD brings together research, evaluation, practice development, and training initiatives within all fields pertaining to community and criminal justice including probation, community safety, youth justice and multi-agency working. The Division also delivers probation officer training in England and helped to develop a similar programme at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa that has been adapted specifically for a South African context. DMU has put together a team comprising a Project Director and other University based staff, as well as making use of a team of externally based consultants. This team will travel regularly to Russia to meet with our partners, visit pilot sites, deliver training to local RJ practitioners, and develop working relationships with other criminal justice agencies. The pilot sites are based in Moscow, Tyumen (Siberia) and Dzerzhinsk in the Nizhy Novgorod region.  

Our partner, the CLJR was established in 1996. The key feature of the Centre’s activities is to facilitate judicial reform and progress within the legal system in Russia. At present, the Centre’s major area of work is the study of restorative justice and experimental implementation within the Russian legal system. This began in 1997 with the first systematic efforts to launch victim-offender mediation in Moscow. In 1999, CLJR began to expand RJ practice to the Russian regions.  

In October 2002, the Project Director visited pilot sites and met with other Russian NGOs to learn from their experiences of initiating criminal justice reform in Russia. In January of 2003, five team members spent two weeks in Russia. Their activities included a seminar on “Legal Grounds for Restorative Justice Practice: World Trends and Russian perspectives” as well as a visit to pilot sites. The main focus of this work was to identify how projects are developing, and to decide, jointly with the pilot sites, upon the most suitable methods for the delivery of training and support. The group also finalized plans for a Russian study group to visit the UK in April 2003 to observe restorative justice projects.  

In the second year of the project, DMU plans to disseminate findings from the pilot sites to a more national level in Russia and to organise an international restorative justice conference in Moscow. During the third year, further pilot sites are planned that will build upon the experiences of the initial sites. It is envisaged that the success of the initial sites will result in legislative change in the Russian parliament that institutionalises the use of restorative justice methods when working with young offenders.  


Contacts
Russian Restorative Justice Project:

Eammon Keenan: ekeenan@dmu.ac.uk or Devinder Curry: dcurry@dmu.ac.uk 

The Community & Criminal Justice Division: 

Brian Williams: bwilliam@dmu.ac.uk 

The Centre for Social Action: 

Mark Harrison: mharrison@dmu.ac.uk

 

Devinder Curry

May 2003

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