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Restorative Justice in Thailand: Lessons Learned

The Thai government began experimenting with restorative practices in 2003 with the implementation of family group conferences for juvenile offenders. In 2004, the probation services began a pilot project using restorative justice in 11 probation offices. Angkana Boonsit from the Thai probation Department shares her experiences and lessons learned in implementing restorative justice in Thai cultural setting. This speech was originally given at the at the ‘Restorative Justice in Emerging Countries’ ancillary session at the 11th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

From last year until now, I have learned a lot by my experience as a trainer, executive, and researcher. So, I would like to tell you about my lessons learned. It might be helpful for emerging countries. And I would like to share my experience with the idea of restorative justice in a different culture.


Looking at my background, I started to seriously study restorative justice five years ago (around 2000) when I was a Ph.D. student at Thammasat University. In 2003, I went to the USA to study with Prof. Ron Claassen at Fresno Pacific University. The 93 hours of individualized study, and 90 hours in class with other students, including training and observation, helped me become so clear in restorative justice, and the relationship between restorative justice and other issues. For me, I perceive that restorative justice is not only a process or method for conflict resolution, but it is also philosophy for human life. 

I graduated from the Ph.D. program in January 2004, and suddenly became a key person in running the restorative justice project in the Department of Probation at the Ministry of Justice.

Fortunately, the Director-General of the Department of Probation, Dr. Kittipong Kittayarak, is the leading thinker on restorative justice in Thailand. So, there is a master plan of the justice system which supports restorative justice. The vision in this plan is “to develop the justice system by enabling effective use and also enhancing a just and fair, restorative and peaceful society beyond equilibrium between law enforcement and human dignity”. And the mission is “to promote and to develop the justice system and its mechanisms regarding rights/liberty and other organizations”. The rights of the victim are emphasized for enhancing a vigorous and harmonious society.

Restorative justice was included in this plan, under strategy no.6, as a method of dispute resolution.
So, in April 2004, the Director-General of the Department of Probation appointed the restorative justice committee in the Department, which is composed of high level executives. The committee has the authority to assign a framework and policy to run restorative justice projects.

 

For the full-text of the speech, see the attachment below.

 

Angkana Boonsit

July 2005

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