Restorative justice is a new movement in the folks of victimology and criminology. Acknowledging that crime causes injury to people and communities, it insists that justice repair those injuries and that parties are in that process to participate. Restorative justice programs, therefore, enable the victim, the offender and affected members of the community. They are central to the criminal justice process, with governmental and legal professionals serving as facilitators of a system that aims at offender accountability, reparation to the victim and full participation by the victim, offender and community.
The restorative process of involving all parties- often in face-to-face meetings- is a powerful way of addressing not only the material and physical injuries caused by crime, but also the social, psychological and relational injuries.
When a party is not able, or does not want to participate in such a meeting, other approaches can be taken to repair the restorative outcome of repairing the damage. In addressing offender accountability these approaches include restitution, community service and other reparative sentences. In addressing victim and offender reintegration they can include material, emotional and spiritual support and assistance.
Though Bangladesh has enacted various procedural and penal laws for administration of criminal justice system but due to lake of resources, delay, bribery, corruption, unfairness, dishonesty, abuse of power and using traditional system keeps us yet to reach to top stage of success. More than one lac cases are pending in both the lower and higher judiciary which creates huge backlog. Litigants are yet to suffer a lot to get proper treatment and adequate protection of law. In such a situation, being an alternative practice of restorative justice has great importance to reduce crime by bringing more offences to justice in our society.
Now I try to discuss with some examples whether and to what extent these features are adopted in the practice of restorative justice system in Bangladesh.
For Family Crisis:
When in a family arises any problem between husband and wife then this mediation process has been done by the guardian level people.
In Bangladesh the land dispute is a severe problem in that cases sometimes the Union Parishad Chairman act as a mediator to solve the problem.
Sometimes we observe that there are several problems occurred in the community related with the dowry demand by the husband or husband’s family member which is also create divorce in husband-wife relations, in that cases this system act a big role in the society.
Child marriage or early marriage is another curse for the Bangladesh in that cases the mediation works as a social medicine in the community as well as in the society.
Local Government Activities:
According to the Union Parishad Act, 2009 there exist a ward sava which is a such type of organ that have power to solve the following problem of the society, like as
- Dowry problem;
- Child Marriage;
- Acid Violence;
- Drug Addiction;
- Others social problem.
These are done by mediation according to the said act.
One kind of RJ in the form of village courts has long been prevalent in Bangladesh. The country has a long history of informal dispute resolution mechanisms with a varying degree of procedures- the traditional shalish, NGO reformed shalish and the village are prime among them.
Accordingly, the Bengal Village Self-Government Act, 1919 (Bengal Act V of 1919) was passed. This was the first law to empower a local government body to adjudicate criminal cases. The Act established a union bench, corresponding to the present day village court, along with concurrent jurisdiction with formal criminal courts to try petty criminal cases.
Later on in 1961, the Conciliation Courts Ordinance was promulgated, which empowered the union council (local government) to deal with minor cognizable offences. This ordinance was repealed by the promulgation of the village Courts Ordinance, 1976.
This Act and the Village Courts Rules, 1976 regulate the formation, jurisdiction and functioning of the village courts, which is an adhoc forum for adjudicating minor disputes or conflicts in rural areas. In case of any dispute triable under this Ordinance, any of the disputant parties can apply to the Chairman of the Union Parishad (UP) for remedy through a village court.
At present according to the Village Court Act, 2006 whatever in civil and criminal code this court have jurisdiction to solve the following problem, like as
- Compensation for agriculture worker;
- Compensation for unauthorized entering of cattle;
- Movable property related compensation
- Restoration Immovable property;
- Other social dispute.
Grievance Redressing in Export Processing Zone (EPZ):
There are eight EPZs in Bangladesh under the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority. In these eight EPZs there are more than 5 lac workers. If there exist any dispute or problem then the trained Social Counselor takes necessary steps for solving the related problem through counseling and mediation. If the counselor fail to resolve the problem then it goes to the Conciliator and the concern Councilor solve it accordingly. There are 90 Counselor and 3 Conciliator are working in eight EPZs.
Agardy, Peter (2009), ‘Mediation and the insolvency practitioner,’ Insolvency Law Journal, Thomson Reuters, Vol 17. No.3, September, Pages 135-146.
Alés Siolis Javier “The Magic Mediation ” (in Spanish) Edit Aconcagua Seville 2010
http://restorativejustice.org/restorative-justice/about-restorative-justice/tutorial-intro-to-restorati ve-justice/lesson-3-programs/victim-offender-mediation/#sthash.Tvsjjm0y.dpbs, access on 17.3.2019 at 1.57 PM
The Bengal Village Self-Government Act, 1919 (Bengal Act V of 1919)
The Village Courts Ordinance, 1976
The Union Parishad Act, 2009.
The Village Court Act, 2006.
 Annual Report (2017-18) of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA).