Professor Ivo Aertsen proposes “the application and development of restorative justice, in particular serious victimisations”
Nerea Melgosa participates in the opening of the academic year at the Basque Institute of Criminology IVAC-KREI 2023-2024
- “We can channel the action taken by the Basque public powers towards a model focused on preventing crime and repairing its consequences while endeavouring to achieve rehabilitation and stop recidivism”
- Presidency of Gemma Varona, director of the IVAC, at the Donostia-San Sebastián Campus of the University of the Basque Country
- Presence of the Ministers of Justice from Catalunya, Navarre and the Basque Country
- The Belgian professor is named Member of Honour of the IVAC
- The XVII Jean Pinatel Award, given ex aequo, to the works: “Analysis of the accident rate in Personal Mobility Vehicles and bicycles in Donostia-San Sebastián” and “Criminal responses to animal abuse”
Donostia-St Sebastián, 21 11 2023
The Basque Government Minister of Equality, Justice and Social Policies, Nerea Melgosa, considers that “the Basque Country has powers in crime prevention, in public security and order, in social policies, in the administration of justice and in the enforcing of prison sentences”. This means, within the provisions of criminal and penal law, that we can channel the action taken by the Basque public powers towards a model focused on preventing crime and repairing its consequences while endeavouring to achieve rehabilitation and stop recidivism by those who finally committed the offense”.
Melgosa participated this afternoon in opening of the 2023/24 academic year at the IVAC-Basque Criminology Institute, at which Ivo Aertsen, Emeritus Professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium was named Member of Honour and gave the opening lecture entitled “Another meeting without borders between the University and public policies on the application and development of restorative justice, in particular serious victimisations. Victims and criminal justice systems: expectations and reality”.
The event, held at the University of the Basque Country campus in Donostia-San Sebastián, was chaired by the director of the IVAC-Basque Institute of Criminology Gema Varona, with the participation of the IVAC academic secretary, Juan Aldaz, the academic secretary of the Gipuzkoa Campus of the University of the Basque Country, Idoia Otaegi; the Minister of the Interior, Civil Service and Justice and spokesperson for the Government of Navarre, Amparo López Antelo; the Consellera de Justícia, Drets i Memòriz de Catalunya, Gemma Ubasart; and the Basque Minister of Equality, Justice and Social Policies, Nerea Melgosa. Also participating were the Vice-Ministers of Human Rights, Memory and Cooperation, José Antonio Rodríguez Ranz, and of Security, Rodrigo Gartzia-Auzmendi, and the Basque Government Director of Justice, Eugenio Artetxe.
Minister Nerea Melgosa stressed that “the IVAC is an ally in many of the activities promoted by the Basque Government Ministry of Equality, Justice and Social Policies. It is a reference centre in the academic world and an example, not only in the training of high-level professionals, but also in the development of quality research”.
“Transferring scientific knowledge to society is a key element for developing our wellbeing and helps our Administrations to evaluate public policies and to ensure that our decisions are evidence-based. In our case, the scientific interests of the IVAC and those of the Basque Government combine in subjects such as crime prevention, youth justice, victimology, restorative justice and criminal policy” said Nerea Melgosa.
“Some seek to play down our capacity to establish our own criminal policy” – noted Minister Melgosa. “The Basque Country has powers in crime prevention, in public security and order, in social policies, in the administration of justice and in the enforcing of prison sentences”.
“Thus, within the stipulations of criminal and penal law, we can direct the Basque public powers towards a model focused on preventing crime and repairing its consequences while endeavouring to achieve rehabilitation and stop recidivism by those who finally committed the offence. Here our basis, more than simply promoting behaviour normalisation, will be to accompany offenders in their process of acquiring social, relational, educational and working skills with a view to ensuring that they will succeed in their social inclusion” said Minister Melgosa.
Recognition of Aertsen
Gema Varona Martínez. Director of the Basque Institute of Criminology, said that XXX. For his part, the Academic Secretary of the IVAC-KREI, Juan Aldaz, presented the Academic Report for the year 2022-2023.
Ivo Aertsen is a lawyer, psychologist and university lecturer with a doctorate in «Victim-offender mediation: a study into the development of a restorative justice oriented criminal justice system» from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven). He is also founder of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, a non-governmental organisation founded in 2000 as the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, with the participation of people from 15 countries.
Following the opening lecture given by Ivo Aertsen, the Ministers of Justice from the Basque Country, Navarre and Catalunya held a discussion led by Eduardo Santos and José Luis de la Cuesta.
Nerea Melgosa explained to Ivo Aertsen that the Ministry she directs “deals with justice, but also equality, human rights and social policies. This cross-cutting nature has the advantage of being able to bring different lines of action together to meet a shared goal: to make justice more human and capable of guaranteeing the rights of vulnerable persons”.
“With this point of view, I believe that Criminal Law must not focus on vengeance and punishment, but that it must be an instrument for reparation, peace and coexistence. And that’s where restorative justice takes on its importance, on giving us tools to engage in dialogue with which to manage and solve individual or social conflicts” she added.
Furthermore, Melgosa explained that “the restorative justice existing today in the Basque Country is the result of years of work. From its beginnings in youth justice and creation of the intrajudicial mediation service and its subsequent transformation into today’s restorative justice service. To the introduction of restorative justice programmes in prisons, with the assumption of penitentiary power”.
“Today we have a restorative justice service based on judicial referral operating in the criminal and civil-family sphere. A service where the use of mediation is statistically highest, but which also uses other tools such as circles and meetings. And we also have restorative justice programmes which operate in the penitentiary sphere” said Nerea Melgosa in the discussion with Professor Aertsen.
Melgosa explained that “We live in an individualised, polarised and fragmented society where we are losing the ability to peacefully resolve conflicts by ourselves. That’s why we want to help generate a cultural change that promotes a culture of dialogue with a view to resolving social conflicts. We already have a number of experiences in this respect in some towns of Gipuzkoa and Araba, with restorative dialogues underway in communities in the endeavour to restore the broken coexistence”.
“In our strategy, we advocate extending restorative justice services to victims, aggressors and crimes of all kinds, including the most serious, independently of the stage of the criminal procedure. That said, it is true that when dealing with more serious crimes, given their stronger emotional impact, greater care must be taken to ensure the voluntary nature of all sides and guarantee their physical and psychological wellbeing. Here there is room for equally reparative techniques such as indirect meetings with victims, circles, etc., which do not require a direct meeting between the victim and the aggressor. In any event, we must remember that the law currently forbids mediation and conciliation in certain crimes” commented Minister Melgosa.
The XVII Jean Pinatel Award was given, ex aequo, to the works: “Analysis of the accident rate in Personal Mobility Vehicles and bicycles in Donostia-San Sebastián: associated factors and proposals for improvement” and “Criminal responses to animal abuse: Proposal for intervention in the field of Alternative Measures to Imprisonment (MPA)”. Idoia Otaegi, academic secretary of the Gipuzkoa Campus of the University of the Basque Country brought the opening day of the year to a close.
Personalities: Agnese Moro
Throughout the day, a variety of classes and activities were presented related to “Intergenerational restorative justice: Expanding the dialogue of the Encounter of the Encounters (EofEs)” within the XIII Victimology Meeting in homage to Professor Antonio Beristain.
Ever since it began in Donostia/San Sebastián in 2019, the so-called “Encounter of the Encounters” has been gathering people from the Navarre province of the Basque Country, Belgium, Germany, Israel and Palestine, Italy, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ukraine, who have in common participation in restorative dialogues in the aftermath of political violence and violent extremism. Working to a methodology adapted from human libraries, experiences have been shared from the complexity and respect of the restorative principles, all coinciding with the International Restorative Justice Week.
“Victims of terrorism at the University of the Basque Country: peace, voices and indifference” was the subject analysed, first thing in the morning, by Ana Escauriza, professor at the University of Navarra (UNAV). A graduate in History and Journalism from the University of Navarra, with a master’s degree in Research from the University of Valladolid and a doctorate in Contemporary History earned at the University of the Basque Country. In 2022 she published Violence, silence and resistance, ETA and the University (1959-2011).
This was followed by a discussion on the subject of the “Restorative significance of the truth, reparation, memory, forgiveness and reconciliation in the aftermath of political violence and violent extremism” with representatives of different EofEs countries introduced by Maitena Poelemans, from the European Studies Center, University of Baiona and Michèle Mestrot from the University of Pau.
Among the participants were Ivo Aertsen, Clair Aldington, Ernersto Balducchi, Eduardo Santos, Gabrio Forti, Guido Bertagna, Emanuela Biffi, Robi Damelin, Barbara Dürkhop, Carolin Hillemanns, Idoia Igartua, Maixabel Lasa, Katrien Lauwaert, Leyre Padilla, Claudia Mazzucato, Roberto Moreno, Agnese Moro, Alberto Olalde, Francesco Semeria, Gema Varona, Pili Zabala, Mohammed AbuJafar, Laila Alsheikh, María Margalida, Jo Berry, Franco Bonisoli, Adolfo Ceretti, Itai Leshem, Arianna Fioravanti, Pat Magee, Yeva Narodenko, Laura Russo, Raymond Watson, Alex Carrascosa, Ainhoa Gómez Izagirre, José Aguilar, Letícia Vidotto, Laura Ibañez, Roland Prévot, Fatima Ezzarhouni, Josemi Gómez Elósegui, Mar Puga, Pablo Martínez Larburu and Tanya Kearns.
“Suffering and its impacts. Intersections of personal, interpersonal and social reconstruction in the aftermath of political violence and violent extremism: restorative justice as a transformative justice and not only procedural and therapeutic” was analysed first thing in the afternoon at a meeting with representatives of several EofEs countries moderated by Alex Carrascosa, Idoia Igartua and Roberto Moreno (Basque Ombudsman).