Time to repair

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

In addition to criminal justice, Luxembourg is launching its first restorative justice service. The aim is to offer perpetrators and victims of offences a change of perspective on how they react. Here is how.

It has been one year since the SEJURE (Restorative Justice Service) was created in Luxembourg. Outside the usual judicial services, it is located in the premises of the Centre de médiation asbl, in Bonnevoie. The only difference is that it is financed by the Ministry of Justice, whereas the two other mediation services and the service for access to rights depend on the Ministry of Education. But this is a far cry from resolving neighbourhood or domestic disputes. Jessica Luisi is the coordinator of the service: a criminologist by training, she became interested in the psychological aspect of the legal system very early on. She has studied delinquency and crime and the responses to them. For her, restorative justice is not there to replace criminal justice: "It is important that it does its job but it is a completely different work. Criminal justice qualifies the offence, designates a guilty party and a victim, it is structured. People often come out without having been able to express important things and still have issues that are not resolved."

The first traces of restorative justice are attributed to the first peoples of North America. The notion of reparation is mentioned in several historical texts: the Torah specifies the restitution of property to victims by criminals, the Code of Ur-Nammu (the oldest surviving tablet containing a legal code) requires reparation for acts of violence, the Code of Hammurabi (a Babylonian legal text from around 1750 BC) prescribes as a penalty for property offences, the Law of the Twelve Tables (the first body of written Roman law) orders the thief to pay double for the stolen goods.

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