THE EDITOR: Recently, there has been a great deal of speculation concerning the implementation of restorative justice in Trinidad and Tobago.
This form of justice is a theoretical concept that focuses on the repairing of harm caused by individuals. It also takes into account the importance of creating social equity which might be a difficult goal to achieve in these current trying times.
Restorative justice has been considered a social theory that lies in stark contrast to the traditional justice system in many parts of the world where offenders are either imprisoned for life or receive physical forms of punishment.
It is important to note that early indigenous tribes of the Americas as well as the peoples of the African and Asian continents actually used restorative justice as a way for having assailants strongly sensitised to the serious nature of their crimes.
In those times, this form of justice would have worked effectively due to the fact that the people held their chiefs and elders with much esteem and honour and perceived them to be God’s representatives on earth.
It is noteworthy that the "panchayat" system was a form of village court that was a very fundamental aspect of life among our East Indian immigrants. The competent, well-respected village elder served as mediator for conflict resolution within this system.
At present, restorative justice may not be a sound application for our current justice system because of how crime and criminality is fast evolving. Criminals who stalk our land now, are generally lacking in conscience.
Broadly speaking, they are hell bent on disrupting the orderliness, peace and well-being of our citizens. What they do require is a serious handling by our law enforcement agencies.
It is somewhat difficult to change a hardened criminal in these Trini times. The justice system may have him tamed for a while, but he could very well revert to his usual brutish and hellish ways.
Restorative justice may not be the solution for successfully bringing perpetrators to their senses. Instead, criminals must be made to feel the firm and heavy hands of the law.