… Holds Webinar to Commemorate International Restorative Justice Week.
The Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Justice, is set to launch the ‘Restorative Justice Centre’ as part of efforts to ensure quick dispensation of justice, promote peaceful communities and prevent re-offending.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, revealed this during a webinar organised by the Lagos State Restorative Justice Steering Committee as part of activities to commemorate the International Restorative Justice Week.
The Commissioner, represented by the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, remarked that the Restorative Justice Centre has a great potential for decongesting court dockets as well as correctional centres, promoting peaceful communities, transforming the criminal justice system, healing wounds of crime as well as reintegrating offenders into society.
He noted that the ‘Restorative Justice Centre’ will soon be launched by the State Government in order to ensure an effective dispensation of justice whereby people can walk into the centre to make enquiries and file complaints.
Also speaking at the event, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba stated that the annual international Restorative Justice (RJ) week held every November is to create awareness about the benefits of restorative justice for the victim, offender, community and stakeholders.
The Chief Judge, who was represented by Hon. Justice O. Oshodi, described restorative justice as a method used for dealing with a crime that puts the needs of victims first while the offender takes responsibility for their actions.
A Keynote Speaker at the webinar, Hon. Justice Chinyere Ani of the High Court, Enugu State, stated that RJ is as old as man and its approach to crime dates back thousands of years as it has been the dominant model of criminal justice throughout most of human history.
In her words: “Some of the goals and objectives of RJ programme include holding the offender accountable in a meaningful way, increasing victim and community satisfaction, repairing the harm caused by the offender, reducing incarceration, reintegrating the offender into the community, increasing public confidence in the justice system and saving time and cost of prosecution”.
Justice Ani stated further that RJ is mainly used for cases involving children/juvenile offenders or when the offence is of a non-serious nature and there is a need for reconciliation.
She also explained that RJ is about communication, confrontation, accountability, healing, compensation, restoration and restitution, stressing that it considers crime largely as an infraction against people within communities, contrary to the more abstract legal explanation of crime as harm against the State.
Other panellists at the webinar were Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, UNILAG, Dr. Akeem Bello and RJ Coordinator for Jamaica, Adriene Lindsay, among others