“We have taken constructive steps forward in the direction to apply basic principles of UN guidelines in administering juvenile justice in the Maldives” says Hamid Yoosuf, Executive Director of Juvenile Justice Unit.
Juvenile Justice Unit uses Restorative Justice Approach as a basis which emphasizes on repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior.
There is a vast difference between traditional justice system and restorative justice. Traditional Criminal Juvenile Justice focus on the offence, violation of the law, punishment and retribution. The child offender plays a passive role and the victim is ignored. Detention and institutionalization is overused.
Restorative Juvenile Justice on the other hand focuses on the victim, the consequences of the offence, reparation of the harms, reintegration of the juvenile offender and prevention of re-offending.
Currently juveniles in conflict with the law are processed according to the local existing juvenile justice regulations where the juvenile offenders are introduced to various rehabilitation programs. Juvenile offenders such as Rushdhaan go through counselling services and the opportunity to rehabilitate in an enabling environment where they learn to manage their anger and learn emotional and social skills. The system support in preventing offenders from re–offending by reintegrating them into the community while also facilitating them to assume active responsibility for their actions.
In addition, young offenders are helped to understand the consequences of their offending and how take responsibility of their behavior. They are also taught through supervision to repair the harm caused by their offence either directly to the victim or to the community.
“Our existing system is not perfect,” implies Hamid. “But we see the changes in our efforts to establish a complete juvenile justice system.”