Victims’ Voices: aspects of restorative justice

Experts met to discuss the socio-legal research developed in the field of Justice and social vindications in the country.

Bibiana Sarmiento, Externado researcher, emphasized that one of the goals of restorative justice is meeting victims’ needs.  Also, she stated the guarantee of basic rights was one of the most recurrent issues when talking with victims on the right to justice.

Sarmiento, researcher of the Externado Unesco Chair and the Criminal Policy Research Center, offered the conference “The idea of Justice from below: Are restorative elements emphasized?”  To illustrate her point of view on the importance victims’ place on fulfilling their basic needs, she read excerpts from accounts of those participating in her research.

“For me, justice is for Government to show a little heart, not to replace everything the victims lost in the armed conflict, but at least meet the needs of each victim – at least have a decent home and a job, an undertaking, or a view towards the future.”

Also, Gema Varona Martínez, of the Basque Institute of Criminology, through video conferencing, stressed: “restorative justice is not only about the victim, perpetrator, and facilitator, but has a third “leg” which is the community, present in restorative justice processes.

During the meeting, it was recalled restorative justice is founded on ancestral conflict management experiences by indigenous communities.

For her part, Diana Escobar, Ombudsman, National Office for Promotion and Dissemination of

Human Rights, offered the lecture “Challenges of Pedagogy for Peace, from a restorative justice viewpoint.”  Her research was based on five themes: justice, education, culture, coexistence, and participation. The official said, “for us, as Ombudsman, the first thing we have to see is from where all this peacebuilding comes, everything has to land on the right to peace, that is our main mission.”

She added that one of the challenges facing the Ombudsman is based on the issue of emotional education for peace; how to give people an image or perception of a different justice, given the lack of public confidence in Colombian institutions.

The event, organized by the Constitutional Law Department Social Vindications and Law Research Group, was coordinated by Camilo Umaña, Externado Professor-researcher; PhD in Criminology from the University of Ottawa, and PhD in Legal Sociology from the University of the Basque Country.