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The fifth restorative justice centre established by the Government of Jamaica was opened on Monday, February 4, at the Trench Town Multipurpose Centre in St. Andrew.

The facility is the first of three to be opened this week as part of activities to mark Restorative Justice Week 2013. The others will be opened in Russia, Westmoreland on February 5; and in August Town, St. Andrew on February 6.

At Monday’s opening ceremony, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon Mark Golding, explained that “restorative justice is a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular dispute that has taken place, come together to resolve, collectively, how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future.”

He noted that restorative justice is a model of justice that has come to embody traditional concepts and practices of community communication, expression, resolution, and unity in restoring relationships after a dispute has occurred.

The restorative justice concept, he said, goes beyond “how we think specifically about the conflict, to how we think of ourselves collectively as a society and how we respond to crime and conflict”. He said the process involves taking responsibility for what has happened, restoring relationships and preserving community peace and unity.

“It allows for …people from all political persuasions, all economic status, all religious orientations to come together to deal with issues and build bridges of orientation through the circle and restorative justice,” he pointed out.

The Minister commended the community members for their willingness to participate in the restorative justice programme, noting that the centre will complement the work of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community groups and churches that are operating in the Trench Town community.

“Restorative Justice is really here to enhance the overall offering of services that exist and to bring to this community, the benefits that restorative justice has to offer,” the Minister added.

Other activities for Restorative Justice Week include a graduation and awards ceremony on February 7; and an international restorative justice conference and public lecture on February 8.