Providing Training to Restorative Justice and Mediation Forum (RJMF) Members

Date: 11-Aug-2023

RJ & Mediation Training Facilitation, Concept of RJ, Human rights, Fundamental rights, Gender equality, Gender-based violations, Conflict prevention, Relevant Laws (Muslim Family Law, 1961; Hindu Family Law, 1980; Women and Children Oppression Act, 2003; Domestic Violence Act, 2010; Early Marriage Act, 2017), Country’s Constitution, BftW, Diakonia.

The training on Restorative Justice session facilitation and community mediation was conducted with the aim of equipping participants with a comprehensive understanding and gaining intensive knowledge of these two essential processes and their alignment with various critical aspects to ensure a dispute-free society, especially focusing on women’s and girls’ rights. Throughout the training, the significance of human rights, fundamental rights, gender equality, conflict prevention, and relevant laws was also introduced to the participants to provide them with a detailed understanding of the topics. There were 50 trainings arranged at the community level under the Access to Justice project working area, namely Rangpur Sadar (11), Badarganj (11), Pirgacha (9), Barishal Sadar (7), Banaripara (7), and Kawkhali (5) Upazila. A total of 1253 RJMF members (M-646 and W-607) have received orientation training on Restorative Justice facilitation and community mediation. These participants are covered by 50 unions (per union, 27 members) of the above-mentioned upazilas, whereby they voluntarily and willingly participated in the community mediation dispute resolution and Restorative Justice process by forming a RJMF forum.

However, to capacitate and strengthen the RJMF members by providing theoretical and practical examples on Restorative Justice (RJ) and Community mediation, these series of community-wise trainings have been conducted at the community level during the period from February 2023 to June 2023.

Among the participants, 607 women and 646 men were RJMF members. Mr. Mahabub Akhter (Program Officer-Training, Access to Justice Project) worked as a lead training officer along with his other co-lead facilitators, who are working as Area coordinators and Community paralegals in the respective Upazilas. The duration of each training was two days, whereas participants received the primary concepts of rights, human rights, fundamental rights, sex and gender, gender equality, gender-based violations, conflict and conflict resolution, and introduced with different existing laws (Muslim Family Law, 1961; Hindu Family Law, 1980; Women and Children Oppression Act, 2003; Domestic Violence Act, 2010; Early Marriage Act, 2017). Besides, Participants were also introduced to the concept of restorative justice, which focuses on repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior rather than solely punishing the offender.

The key principles of restorative justice, including inclusivity, dialogue, accountability, and community involvement, were discussed in detail. The training highlighted the various benefits of employing restorative justice interventions, such as empowering victims to express their emotions, seeking closure, and actively participating in the resolution process. Participants also learned that restorative justice has been linked to reduced recidivism rates and community healing as it strengthens social bonds and fosters reconciliation.

Moreover, the training also focused on community mediation, which aims to resolve conflicts at the grassroots level with the assistance of trained mediators. Facilitators briefly explain the importance of promoting dialogue, understanding, and reconciliation and how community mediation plays a crucial role in fostering peace within communities. Facilitators also emphasize and underline the advantages of community mediation, such as its cost-effectiveness and amicability compared to formal legal proceedings, making justice more accessible and equitable.

In addition to that, Participants were educated about the concept of human rights as universal and inalienable entitlements to which all individuals are inherently entitled. The distinction between human rights and fundamental rights, which are specific rights granted and protected by our country’s constitution, was also discussed in the training. Besides, the concepts of sex and gender, gender equality and how it relates to human rights, gender-based violence, Conflict and its prevention strategies, Dowry, and different relevant laws were also discussed in the sessions. The two days of training ended with a commitment to build a more inclusive and just society. In the end, participants also shared their feelings. These are given below:

“Rather than considering a problem as an offense, it may be taken as a mistake so that the offender can get a chance to reform himself as a normal man in society. If this justice system works this way, offenses can be reduced. I never thought this way; I just learned it here. This is really helpful for conducting any mediation session,” says Jahurul Haqe, RJMF member, Tapodhan Union, Rangpur Sadar, Rangpur.

“Earlier, I didn’t have much knowledge regarding the laws, which I learned in detail in this RJMF members training. I think If I knew all these things and laws a bit earlier, many seductive behaviors and occurrences could be protected. However, many thanks to NU for such appreciative initiatives by Aafsar Ali, the councilor, and Rangour City Council.

“Knowing the different laws, particularly the Muslim family laws and the Domestic Violence Act, makes me feel enriched and inspired to do the RJ mediation more accurately for the woman and child. If this type of training can be arranged again, it will be very fruitful for our learning as well as mediation,” says Tahmina Begum, RJMF member.