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With high levels of violence and corruption in the justice system, community organizations in Latin America are looking for peaceful means of resolving conflicts.

Central America: Restorative juvenile justice and a region’s important choices
from the article in Creative Times: In light of the vast challenges faced by the juvenile justice systems in these three countries, Orietta Zumbado, a Judge who leads USAID-SICA AJR’s juvenile justice component, recently sat down with international restorative juvenile justice expert, Victor Herrero. The two team members discussed alternative justice measures in Central America. Herrero, who has applied restorative juvenile justice in more than ten countries, is currently working with AJR to strengthen the institutions responsible for oversight and control of alternative sanctions imposed on minors, so that these more efficiently and more effectively impact recidivism indexes and improve the capacity for the social rehabilitation of offenders.
Duggan, Colleen and Guillerot, Julie and Paz y Paz Bailey, Claudia. Reparations for sexual and reproductive violence: Prospects for achieving gender justice in Guatemala and Peru.
Sexual and reproductive violence (SRV) perpetrated against women during war or under authoritarian regimes is one of the most severe manifestations of gender-based violence. The authors ask how governments in new or reforming democracies hope to repair SRV and how state programs for reparation might be conceptualized and delivered. By examining the cases of Guatemala and Peru, they explore the problematic of repairing damage caused by SRV and comment on prospects for redress to victims in each country. (Authors Abstract).
Jantzi, Vernon and King, Tracey. Peacemaking to Peacebuilding: Restorative Justice and Local Peace Commissions in Nicaragua
During the final stages of the Contra War in Nicaragua in the mid and late 1980s, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission promoted the formation of peace commissions in villages and towns in the most conflicted areas. CEPAD, the development agency of the Nicaraguan Protestant churches, actively worked to form Peace Commissions in the Nueva Guinea region in the southeastern part of the country. The local seven-person Peace Commissions were trained to work in conflict resolution so they could do peacemaking at the grassroots in support of efforts by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and other groups to carry forward the national peace processes. After official peace accords were signed the Commissions continued to work on the transition to national peace by helping to facilitate the reintegration of demobilized combatants into their respective communities as part of the post war reconstruction. This rebuilding has taken many years. The Commissions' work has been increasingly valued as their numbers and scope has grown. Today some 140 local peace commissions continue to function, but now their challenge is to work with community problems, some of which might be best addressed with restorative justice informed responses. With decades of war now behind them, their work has shifted from peacemaking and the reintegration of ex-combatants to peacebuilding and the challenges posed by social disorganization and crime in their communities. As the Peace Commissions now work to strengthen civil society in an extended period of social reconstruction, how might, or do, they reframe or reconceptualize their work in peacemaking to also include restorative justice so they can build more peaceful and stronger communities? This paper will explore how this reframing is taking place and the challenges it represents. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,
Pearson, Annette. Can Colombian Community Justice Houses Help the new Criminal Justice System Achieve Restorative Results?
Restorative Justice is not a familiar term amongst the public or in legal circles. Key characteristics of restorative justice values, actors, procedures and settings are not known or understood by formal justice system operators. The 1991 Colombian Constitution created community conciliators and popularly elected judges who do play a role in the justice system. These community justice figures are not acquainted with the restorative justice conccepts as such but they often do have an approach to conflict resolution which resembles restorative justice practices. Rather surprisingly, proponents of restorative justice innovations from within the university context were successful in their bid to have restorative justice references included in the new criminal procedure code passed in July, 2004. This legislation which will come into force on the 1st of January 2005 has an entire section entitled restorative justice. In a wide range of crimes which require citizen initiative to bring them into the criminal justice system, obligatory conciliation proceedings between the victim and the suspected offender before a criminal investigation will be commenced. The reform of the criminal justice system does assume that preliminary conciliation encounters between the victim and the suspected offender can produce restorative justice type agreements. Given the provisions foreseen for the operation of the obligatory conciliation proceedings, it is not likely that restorative justice ends will be well served. Some of these conciliation encounters will be undertaken in community justice houses. The community justice house model located in 32 cities, principally in poor peripheral urban suburbs, included both formal criminal justice system operators, as well as community mediators, conciliators and judges. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,
Roche, Declan. Governing ungoverned spaces: the role of one women’s group in Cali, Colombia
In Cali, Colombia, a group of women from the District of Aguablanca is helping to bring peace and justice to one of the country’s poorest and most violent turban areas. Using skills and information disseminated through a network of weekly meetings, local women assist local residents both by providing a range of essential services – from mediation to adult education – and by referring residents to other service providers and resources in the community. This group, which is strikingly community-based, female, well-led, disciplined, and holistic, is now being touted as a model for communities elsewhere in Colombia. Communities, policy-makers and restorative justice advocates – both in Colombia and abroad – can learn much from their approach to restorative justice, and more broadly, from their network-based approach to governing ungoverned spaces. Much of the debate about the conflict in Colombia focuses on national events and neglects the efforts of local communities to nurture peace and justice in their immediate environment. The Aguablanca program demonstrates that local initiatives can make a big difference in the lives of ordinary Colombians. To replicate the success of this program in communities elsewhere, however, it will be necessary to identify local citizens who can provide the same leadership and commitment as the women of Aguablanca. Author’s abstract.
Salm, Joao. Co-produced restorative justice: The possibility of implementing restorative justice principles in south Brazil.
Restorative Justice is a set of normative principles. These principles can be practiced in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings. When these principles work, it is democracy at its best. Restorative Justice has been conceptualized by a vast number of scholars and practitioners in and outside the area of conflict resolution. Most see Restorative Justice as providing the possibility of bringing people together to restore the harmony of a community. This dissertation utilized field work and content analysis to track down and understand the consistency and implementation process of Restorative Justice principles in the community and in the courts of south Brazil. Interviews, observations, and agreements were studied to determine how Restorative Justice principles were being used in settings of the community and the courts. Also, inquiries were made as to whether Restorative Justice is being co-opted by the courts as another strategy to carry out official duties. The results of this research indicate that Restorative Justice brings a new degree of justice and humanity into the community as private parties seek to mend what has been broken without intervention of the law and the courts. Programs based on the principles of Restorative Justice bring work, education, and hope to the youth in the favelas of Brazilian cities, and methods to address the root causes of conflict. It was also determined that a recriprocal partnership, co-produced by a political-educational approach, must be created between the community and the court to further implement Restorative Justice. (Abstract taken from paper)
Vazulla, Juan Carlos. The participation of the community representative in mediation involving youth perpetrators
In Brazil, the juvenile justice system includes victim-offender mediation. Now they have added a third mediator into those meetings: one that represents the community that was transgressed against.
Wachtel, Joshua. Toward Peace and Justice in Brazil: Dominic Barter and Restorative Circles.
In 2004 the Brazilian Ministry of Justice received a small UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) grant to launch the country’s first official restorative justice (RJ) pilot projects. Recognizing the unique social context of urban violence in Brazil, the projects brought together school administrators, judges, court workers, prison authorities, social service agencies and local community leaders to create a broad restorative response to the most challenging breakdowns in community safety. While justly known for their creative celebration of life, Brazilians also live with glaring wealth imbalances and the normalization of violence: Murder is the principle cause of death for people under 25. (excerpt)

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