Source: (2005) Essay for the Seminar on Mediation and Restorative Justice. Catholic University of Leuven.

The initial question that is evolving from the title is whether we need legislation concerning restorative justice, and if so, why. If we are successful in answering this question and systemising the reasons behind our answer, the following issue that is coming up is whether our argument is valid in any context or not. If not, it would serve as a sign that there are more underlying aspects behind our argument concerning the legislation of restorative justice. Translating this abstract introduction into more concrete terms, the following essay will firstly discuss the reasons behind my argument pointing out that legislation is necessary in any justice system applying restorative practices. Following discussing the ‘pro-legislation’ aspects, I intend to sketch some of the possible dangers that have to be taken into consideration while designing any legislative framework. As a consequence, the final part of the essay will highlight those issues that, in my opinion, have even more underlying roles concerning the effective application of restorative justice than merely the emphasis on legal framework. Namely, in the final section the necessity of a broader approach in implementation issues will be discussed. Accordingly, I intend to argue that besides legislation we also need to focus on realising a suitable institutional as well as cultural framework in a society in order to find the place for restorative interventions in any justice system. If we forget this broader context and only consider the necessary legislative aspects, we can easily ‘loose the wood for the trees’. (excerpt)


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