Monthly Archives: January 2012

International Child Abduction – A Growing Legal Maze?

The recent case of Marianne Grin in Russia has drawn attention to international child abduction and the legal failings relating to these cases.  After losing custody, the mother of four took her children to Russia, from their home in Italy, and is refusing to return them to their father. Like many child abduction cases, it has an international dimension – the children have dual American/Russian citizenship and are Italian residents. As the complexities of international child abduction continue to grow, within an increasingly globalised world, there is a growing  need for laws to govern these issues arising from cross border relationships.

The Grin case is scarily similar to that of Elke Mellersh. Ms Mellersh abducted her children in the previous year and fled to Turkey, she then committed suicide after taking their lives in November 2011. She had disappeared along with her children, fearing they would be taken from her, after the German courts had declared her  mentally unstable, and had taken steps to revoke her custody. Like the Italian courts, the German courts strongly favour the mother in custody battles and it is not easy for the mother to lose custody. In Germany, women gain exclusive custody in almost 100% of cases where children are under the age of 6, and in cases with older children this drops no lower than 95%.

As in the Grin case, the reporting of the  story was radically different in Turkey, the ethnic home country of Ms Mellersh, than it was in the UK. Despite also being a German case, the story went largely unreported in Germany, where privacy laws prevent newspapers from covering suicide cases. Ms Mellersh, like Ms Grin, also appeared to be escaping from court rulings she disagreed with. In both cases, allegations of abuse levied against the father, and numerous other people, were proven by the courts to be unfounded. She was a German citizen with Turkish heritage, the children were dual nationals of both Germany and Britain. None of them had ever lived in Turkey, but like Grin she had tried to reinvent herself as a “persecuted mother” fleeing to her home country. She was portrayed as such in the Turkish media, which took a nationalist stance and sensationalised the case without addressing or seeking factual information.

The most painful thing about this case is the possibility that theirs deaths could have been prevented. Undoubtedly, there were huge failings in Germany and in Turkey, where the children had been kept illegally for some time before their deaths. What would have happened if their whereabouts was known earlier? Would the Turkish authorities have complied with both German and international laws to protect the children? Would the Turkish authorities have taken or attempted to take the necessary steps to ensure their safe return? There are several laws in place which applied to the Mellersh case, such as the Hague Convention Against Child Abduction. The difference in the Grin case is that the whereabaouts of the children is known and these laws can still be enforced. Turkey which is also part of the Hague Convention is notably slow at complying with the convention effectively in such cases. Russia can still prove that it is able to implement relevant legislation and uphold the convention and it’s values by returning the children to Italy.

In his article in the Huffington Post, Harris Silver raised the issue of the importance of laws within and between countries? I agree that these laws are hugely important, especially in a world where transnational cooperation is becoming an essential part of legal practice. In relation to child abduction, international treaties are often essential due to the cross border nature of a growing number of these cases. That said, the application and enforcement of these laws is vital if they are to be effective in applying to those it seeks to protect.

Sentenced for looting? What about corporate fraud?

The sentencing of rioters this summer appeared to be  harsh, disproportionate and policy driven. The government tried to influence sentencing and the judiciary went along with it, handing down long sentences for crimes that would normally barely even reach the court. The damage caused by the riots, especially to small businesses, came at a high cost. The government and the public wanted there to be a consequence for all those involved. The courts proceeded to make an example of those who had looted goods, by giving them prison sentences of up to several years.

Andrew Wetherall outside the court with his wife, who due to her expensive tastes, he claims he committed fraud for

There was a father of two jailed for 18 months for stealing a flat screen tv, a 19 year old was sentenced to 2 years in a young offenders institution for drinking stolen champagne and picking up a pair of stolen trainers, and then the case of the 6 month sentence for stolen water from Lidl. What about ex Labour minister Elliot Morley? He was freed last year after serving only a quarter of his 16 month sentence for claiming 30,000 pounds in expenses. While Andrew Wetherall, the director of KPMG who stole 500,000 pounds by fiddling his expense claims. He was sentenced to 4 years, for a crime that vastly outweighs the cost of a flatscreen tv. The theft of the damage caused by the riots is not insignificant or justifiable, but a custodial sentence is in my opinion highly unsuitable for most of those involved in the riots (community service and restorative justice would be much more helpful in rebuilding communities). It is also completely inconsistent with the large scale theft committed by individuals in government or in charge of running large corporations.

Although figures show that the majority of those arrested for theft last summer were not in fact children, the rioters were still overwhelmingly young people. The media were quick to once again demonize the British youth, even last week there was debate about the discipline of children and whether restrictions on smacking children should be lifted. However, the public seems to ignore the great examples being set by adults in the form of fraudulent businessmen, MP’s and executives of large corporations. These individuals are portrayed in a completely different light to those who stole a tv, a pair of trainers or a bottle of water last summer.

Combined with the lack of prospects, how will the next generation gain respect for our society when those at the top are regularly looting assets to lead lavish lifestyles. When young people see the anarchic behaviour of the rich and the often mild consequences of this behaviour if any, how can we expect them to develop different values? Many people who got caught up in the moment and took part in the chaos, behaved as if it was their right to appropriate goods e.g. a pair of trainers, even trying them on before leaving the ransacked shop. The public were shocked by these details, but how is this different, in fact it is hardly comparable to the behaviour of  Bill Godley, Andrew Wetherall, Elliot Morley, Lord Taylor or the cases of Alstom, BAE etc… The recent corporate fraud cases are too numerous to name.

I’m not condoning stealing, but why is corporate fraud treated like a relatively harmless and victimless crime? On the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service (CIFAS) website, the Chief Executive, Peter Hurst states that although violent/aggravated burglary and scams are different crimes, their consequences are often the same. There are many different fraud cases and many different types theft, but the money stolen is also money lost by others. Those sentenced for looting or theft took goods as if they were entitled to it, just like those who have committed fraud. If judges are quick to make examples of those who looted during the summer riots, why are they not applying the same tactic to those who commit corporate fraud?

Turkey’s Violations of ECHR Highest for 3 Years

When Nicolas Bratza, the head of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), released the figures for ruling against states in 2011 last week, Turkey was again the country with the highest number of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). With 159 cases that violated the ECHR, this is the 3rd year in a row Turkey has been at the top of the list, painting a dim picture of Turkey’s human rights record. Russia (with 121 cases) and the Ukraine (105) were not lagging far behind. Britain fared comparably well with only 8 violations. However David Cameron’s comments earlier in the week stating that the ECtHR was in danger of becoming a “small claims court”, were not so well received by the Strasbourg based court.
Despite not being an EU Member State, the ECHR, drafted in 1950, places Turkey under the jurisdiction of the ECtHR. Although Turkey signed the protocols of the convention, it has yet to ratify a number of them. Nevertheless, in 1987 Turkey started allowing individuals to file applications and apply to the ECtHR individually, 3 years later it also recognised the compulsory jurisdiction of the court.
The majority of Turkey’s violations concerned the length of proceedings and the right to a fair trial set out by Article 6 of the ECHR. There are currently 16,000 ongoing cases against Turkey, the second-highest number of cases filed against a country under the ECtHR’s jurisdiction. The Turkish government claims it has made considerable progress in improving the human rights situation in the country. Justice Minister Sedat Ergin stated that a series of reforms had been adopted in recent years and insisted that similar legal amendments will continue to improve Turkey’s human rights record. Last year, after a public referendum a number of constitutional reforms were implemented, many relating to the judiciary. These reforms introduced the right to petition the Constitutional Court for human rights violations and established the Ombudsman Office for grievances regarding the misconduct of government agencies and employees.

What Water Cannons Could Mean For Crowd Control

After the summer riots in cities across the UK, the government decided to take a hardline stance in relation to policing. David Cameron announced that police would have water cannons available at 24 hours notice, if the police wished to use them. Even now many of us are still trying to understand what exactly happened this summer and why it was able to spiral out of control so fast. The police largely stood by and watched while Tottenham went up in flames, leaving two police cars on the street, unlocked and abandoned while the violence slowly escalated. Youths started by throwing tomatoes, and when they moved the first police vehicle and nothing happened, it was evident that there was little if any police presence in the area. Whether this was down to understaffing, policy, error or a combination of all three is still being examined. While the cause of the riots is complex to say the least, it is clear that policing during the riots was ineffective and largely flawed. The belief that this could be solved with a hardline stance is both naive and misguided. These strong words by Cameron are more an attempt to pander to his voters than an effort to address the core problems.

Demonstrators in Stuttgart with the police and water cannons

Taking the example of Stuttgart 21, where water cannons were used by German police to clear an ongoing protest against the new central train station. The water cannons were aimed at peaceful protesters, injuring numerous people among them schoolchildren. They mostly sustained eye and head injuries from the water cannons, ranging from bruising to concussion. One man, a pensioner in his mid 60s, was left with severe eye injuries and was blinded in one eye. Although the peaceful Stuttgart 21 protest cannot be compared to the violent behaviour of the rioters, the use of water cannons, especially against minors raises huge concerns in terms of safety and human rights. The 66 year old retired engineer, left badly injured and blind in one eye, highlights the dangers of using water cannons in crowd control.

The disproportionate measures taken by German police in dealing with the 21 protest is something the UK police force should seek to avoid. Other methods and strategies in policing are available to avoid the scenes witnessed this summer. The riots were not caused by bad policing, their roots were complex and caused by a multitude of factors and circumstances.  However the use of water cannons would only exacerbate the situation and raise human rights questions. The role of the police is to protect it’s citizens and not to cause them harm or injury.

Purdah and Cornelia Sorabji: First Female Barrister in India

Another very impressive female legal pioneer is Cornelia Sorabji, who took her law exams in India as early as 1899. She became involved in legal advisory work on behalf of the purdahnashins (see below), these were women who, under Hindu law, were forbidden to communicate with the outside male world and were exempt from appearing in court.  The cases often involved women who owned considerable property, but did not have access to the necessary legal expertise to defend it.

Despite being given special permission to enter pleas on behalf of the purdahnashins before British agents in several principalities, but being a woman, she was unable to defend them in court. Even after gaining her legal qualifications in 1899, Sorabji was not recognized as a barrister until the law, which barred women from practising, was changed in 1924.

After the legal profession was opened to women in India, she began practising in Calcutta. However, she was confined to preparing opinions on cases, rather than pleading them before the court due to discrimination and male bias.  For over 20 years Sorabji helped an estimated 600 women and orphans fight legal battles, sometimes at no cost. She wrote about many of these cases in her books Between the Twilights and her two autobiographies.

The Purdahnashins – The woman with a veil

“Purdah is a curtain which covers the head and neck of a woman, between the community as a whole and the family which is its heart, between the street and the home, the public and the private, just as it sharply separates society and the individual”

The purdah system traditionally seeks to segregate men and women and is more prevalent today in rural areas. The system requires Muslim women to have no contact with men and be covered from head to toe by cloth and often a burkha. While Hindu women traditionally wear a ghoonghat, which covers the head and face and is more prevalent today in smaller towns & villages. Some women only cover their heads as a mark of respect to elders.

A purdahnashin woman

Some critics see purdah as depriving women of economic independence and forces these women to be governed by their male relatives. Originally purdah was intended to be a positive and respectful practice that was supposed to liberate women by providing an aura of respect. By covering themselves, women are looked at as individuals who are judged by their intellect and personality rather than by their physical appearance. However, since the rise of the women’s movement and greater economic and social independence of women, the role of purdah in many cultures has become more controversial. The practice of purdah has almost disappeared in the Hindu culture and is practised to greater and lesser degrees in Muslim areas.

The First Female Barristers

When I was thinking about which women to write about in this article, I realised that there are a huge number of women I wanted to include for their role in breaking down boundaries in the legal world. I thought about the first female barristers, the first female QC’s, the first female judges all of them remarkable individuals. However while almost wanting to write a list of women who inspired me to study law, and writing a small caption on who they were and why, I decided to focus on 3 women in particular. Dr Ivy Williams, the first woman to be admitted to the bar; Rose Heilbron, one of the first 2 female QCs; and Dame Elizabeth Lane, the first female judge and first female High Court judge in England and Wales.

A cartoon of a woman wearing a large barrister's wig, before women were allowed to practise law

The most prestigious positions in law are still dominated by men even today, a QC I once worked for said ‘there are more women in law, but the men are still at the top’ those positions may only come available once the male elite has retired. Undoubtedly this will happen eventually, however women are still being prevented in gaining their fair share of the jobs at the top of the hierarchy. In an article in the Guardian, Lady Justice Hallett expressed her own disappointment at the failure of the judiciary to reflect the society they serve:

“A number of women may have made it to the very top of the profession but, as in other sections of society, there is still a long way to go. For reasons I cannot fathom, I remain the only woman to have been elected chairman of the bar (back in 1998).”

I am not trying to blame the unemployment rate among law students on old fashioned misogyny of course, but when you look at the number of female law graduates for the last few decades and compare it to the sex of judges and high profile lawyers in England and Wales, there are huge inconsistencies. This indicates that the close knit boys club that houses the wealthy white male barrister still exists, at the top at least.

Dr Ivy Williams

One of the first true pioneers of women at the bar is Dr Ivy Williams. She had taken all her law exams by 1903, but university regulations at the time prevented her receiving her qualifications. However, when the regulations in the UK on female students were changed in 1920, she was finally able to graduate along with many other women.

Dr Ivy Williams: The first woman to be called to the bar

She was determined to join the bar now that the laws had changed and she ultimately sought to provide free legal advice to the poor. In 1921 she wrote an article for Woman’s World magazine, stating that she would petition parliament if she was prevented from joining the bar.

However, luckily she secured the support of some influential members of the Inner Temple – the Inn where she was a member and she was called to the bar in 1922. Although she never actually practised as a barrister she paved the way for women to take up the legal profession which was inaccessible and one of the last professions to accept women. She was the first woman to be awarded a Doctorate of Civil Laws and the first woman to teach law at an English university, by teaching law she also inspired other women to go to the bar.

Rose Heilbron

Before writing this article I spoke to my grandma about women in law, she told me about her legal idol Rose Heilbron, who had attended the same primary school in the years preceding my grandmother. I later realised what an important figure she had been in law, especially regarding her law report on the reform of rape laws. Heilbron recommended anonymity was to be given to complainants to encourage them to come forward. In the 1975 law report she also urged for the defence to be limited in their capacity to cross examine the complainant about their sexual history to intimidate them and paint them in bad character.

First female QCs: Helena Normanton left and Rose Heilbron on the right

She was of Jewish descent, from Liverpool and was the prominent leader of the Northern circuit. She was called to the bar in 1939 and she was one of the two first female QCs (then still King’s Counsel) along with Helena Normanton. A calm and collected advocate, she charmed juries and was hugely admired in court for her thoroughness and her style.

Dame Elizabeth Kathleen Lane

Being a member of the Inner Temple myself, I was quite excited to find so many impressive women have been members of that Inn. Like Dr Ivy Williams, Dame Elizabeth Lane, the first female judge and the first woman to sit in the High Court, was also a member. In her biography she writes about finding her way to the bar ‘by accident’, while helping her husband with his legal studies. Her stories of her childhood and her dislike for schoolwork remind me of my own schooldays. Cramming late at night with a torch under the bedclothes, training her memory for the quick absorption of facts, ideal for reading a barrister’s brief that will soon be forgotten again after the case.

Dame Elizabeth Kathleen Lane: First female judge in the UK

Although she only started her pupillage later in life in 1941 at the age of 36 and she soon began a fast paced and successful career in the late 1940s. After obtaining Silk, she was appointed as the first woman commissioner of Manchester Crown Court, where she was addressed as ‘My Lord’, and referred to in the official calendar as ‘Mr Commissioner, Elizabeth Kathleen Lane QC’ in defiance of rationality and common sense. She became the first appointed female county court judge in 1962 and the first woman to be appointed to the High Court in 1965. She was an intelligent, compassionate and hardworking woman who is credited with finally introducing ‘Your Ladyship’ to the legal vocabulary.

Women who entered the legal profession were undoubtedly faced with a huge number of obstacles and hostility during a time when law was such a male dominated area. They must have been remarkable people of exceptionally strong character. Their determination paved the way for great women that followed in their footsteps to pursue a successful career in law.  It’s funny to think that over half a century later, it is women who dominate law studies at university. If the judiciary is to truly reflect the society it regulates women should also gain more respect and status in the legal profession.

Privacy Law in Germany

Privacy law is taken very seriously in Germany, much more so than in the UK. It is one of the strictest countries regarding privacy in the world. This is very noticeable in terms of the contrast in media coverage between the UK and Germany, however it also applies to the internet. German privacy laws and more notably their enforcement have actually put restrictions on areas of the internet and it’s use. This has caused websites and social media such as Google and Facebook numerous problems, as the freedoms of the internet come into conflict with the growing interference with the private lives of individuals.

Street View in Germany: Germans were given the chance to opt out of Google Streetview

In 2010 Google maps was forced to blur out images at street level, after complaints by residents whose houses were shown. People were given the opportunity to opt out of Street View in order to comply with German privacy standards. 3% of Germans actually did this and these buildings were blurred out, making Street View look rather comical. In some cases single housing blocks were blurred out among a whole row of buildings on well known city streets, while in the countryside many large houses were blurred out obscuring the entire street. Google has since stopped updating Google Street View in Germany. Ironically the blurred out images have attracted attention all around the world, which is probably not exactly what the owners of those houses wanted.

Last year, the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD) in Schleswig-Holstein (a state on the Northern tip of Germany) made it illegal for organisations based in the state to have Facebook fan pages and to use the ‘Like’ application. The ULD website states that by using the application, traffic and content data are transferred to the United States where feedback is sent to the website owner regarding the web page usage. Therefore, according to the ULD, when you visit Facebook or use one of it’s plug-ins you can expect to be tracked by the company for two years. Last summer, privacy officials in Hamburg also claimed Facebook could be fined for keeping biometric data stored via the facial recognition system hosted on it’s site.

Germany has a rather diligent application of the European Directive on Privacy while the UK’s application is rather loose to say the least. However privacy laws have been in place since the 1970s and the right to privacy has been an important issue in German society for a long time. The history of Germany has a large part to play in this. Under the Nazi regime and in the GDR people were constantly under surveillance and faced persecution. These regimes used methods that severely infringed people’s privacy and made a negative and terrifying impact on their personal lives. Many Germans feel that privacy laws are very important and that these should be regularly updated and adapted to be in tune with modern technology and society. Maybe we could learn from the German approach to privacy in relation to the view that the law should be an ever evolving organism, which is a perception long held by the legal system in England and Wales.

Challenges to privacy infringements by Germany may not be such a bad thing for internet users across the globe, as it brings to light potentially dodgy privacy violations by new applications, terms and conditions or privacy policies by new media and social networking sites. The issue of privacy will only become a wider issue as our personal lives are ever more present  and visible online and while companies seek to use personal information on the internet as a resource for selling their products and conducting research. While the UK may still be more pragmatic and loose in it’s implementation of privacy laws, it will most likely become more stringent as individuals grow increasingly concerned with their right to privacy and their exposure over the internet.

Restorative Justice in Youth Courts: New Zealand – A case study

One night, walking home in a small remote town in the South of New Zealand, Keira and her friend, became victims in a frenzied unprovoked attack. The attack left her shaken and bruised, while her friend sustained more serious injuries to her left eye and needed hospital treatment. In court, the young girl who had attacked them was unable to explain her behaviour; which had been impulsive, violent and appeared to be entirely without reason or provocation. In fact she had been chatting away to the girls in a bar earlier, where they had all been drinking. The judge rejected her excuse of intoxication in the youth court and, after some time, she admitted that this was not the reason behind the attack.

Like the majority of youth crimes in New Zealand (NZ), this case went through the restorative justice (RJ) system. Due to the nature of the RJ system, the families of the two victims, as well as that of the attacker were deeply involved. The offender’s family are able to speak to the offender publicly and communicate with the victim and their family. This process is often very powerful, especially for the offender and all those closely involved as they are required to deal directly with the crime and it’s effect on the victim.

Restorative Justice in New Zealand
NZ is one of the pioneers in the implementation of restorative justice, especially in relation to young people, and has applied restorative justice (RJ) in it’s youth courts for decades. Restorative justice is certainly not the easy option, it forces the perpetrator to come face to face with what they have done. For young people I can imagine this is particularly powerful, as it appears that many offenders don’t consider the consequences of their actions. It is important to convey the ripple effect crime can have, not only on the victim and their family, but also the effect on the family of the perpetrator, who are left ashamed and often offered little support or sympathy from the community. Restorative justice can be used to allow the victim and the families on both sides to share their stories and to make the offender understand the wider picture, as well as the consequences of their actions on their own life and all those the crime has affected.

Family Group Conferences
The majority of cases are transferred to and handled by Family Group Conferences (FGCs), in which offenders, victims, the police, Child Youth and Family Services, youth advocates and community representatives get together. FGCs are an integral part of the RJ system in the NZ youth justice system. FGCs are lead by a Youth Justice co-ordinator from the NZ Department of Child Youth and Family (CYF). These conferences take place away the formal setting of a courtroom and are ideally also culturally relevant, e.g. a marae (a Māori court). Under the legislation, they are responsible for making decisions concerning the future of the young offender, or making recommendations to the Court. Before attending an FGC, the NZ Youth Court asks the young person whether the charge is “not denied”, rather than taking a guilty/not guilty plea. When a charge is “not denied” it is transferred to the FGC where the young person may nevertheless choose to deny the charge, although in most cases the charge is admitted. The “not denied” mechanism allows the parties to meet and discuss the charge(s) before the offender commits themselves to making a plea. After the offender makes an admission and the facts are clarified and submitted to the court. The court then moves the offender towards reconciliation and gives him/her access to the RJ process.

The Marae
The offender in this case was a Māori girl and the FGC convened in a marae accordingly (this is usually the case when one of the parties is Māori). The marae is a structured setting where both sides are represented along with their families. In 2009, speaking to the New Zealand Herald newspaper, the Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples explained the intensity and the efffect the setting of the marae can have on young defendants both culturally emotionally.

“To stand in a court at your marae with your ancestors and your aunties, uncles and cousins – it’s scary. Some will think it’s soft but this is the hard option … This is how we reconnect them. A lot of children are going to court and finding their Maori side…”

After the facts are presented to the marae, the victim, offender and each family member on both sides are entitled to speak. Kiera chose not to speak, however her friend wanted to explain how this attack had left her deeply troubled and depressed even after her injuries had healed.

The victim’s testimony and explanation of the lasting psychological damage that so often follows violence, makes it more difficult for the offender to distance themselves from their crime. Due to the unusual clarity of the facts which showed that this attack was entirely unprovoked, it was difficult for the young girl to justify or explain her actions. Throughout the process the offender was crying, as she was unable to distance herself from the gravity of the situation. Her family, one by one, spoke to her about the crime and each member told her they were ashamed of her actions. This made it clear that her family were not only deeply affected, but were also hurt and disappointed. In this case the girl was unable to explain why she had acted in the way she did, and was deeply shaken by the process. Her family’s response undoubtedly added to the intensity of her remorse.

Direct Approach
Recognising the pain and humiliation caused to those who are close to the offender is arguably much more punishing than removing yourself and being placed behind bars. The distance towards the victim and minimal contact with their own families which is a consequence of incarceration fails to address the problem head on. However punishment is not the purpose of the RJ system, it is rather reconciliation and rehabilitation as well as opening a dialogue between victim and offender. Many offenders want to apologise and contact the victim, while many victims want to emphasise the impact the crime has had on their lives. Naturally the victim is not always willing to participate and without the victim’s involvement there can be no restorative justice process of this kind. RJ can also be mistaken/misused as means for taking revenge and seeking out the perpetrator, or as a way of avoiding a prison or community sentence. These risks do exist and are considered on a case by case basis, as each case is examined individually to assess the suitability of RJ. The aim of RJ is to minimise crime and thus facilitate building and strengthening safe communities.

After the RJ process
Restorative justice processes focus on the victims and perpetrators of a crime and are expected to change/limit re-offending behaviour. Reducing re-offending behaviour is often generally achieved in RJ and conventional criminal justice responses by the referral of offenders to appropriate treatment programmes.
Through RJ, offenders can be active participants in making decisions on what the reparative and rehabilitative outcomes should be. It has been shown, that people who take part in this process are more likely to comply with the outcomes. Therefore it is vital, that the defendant is also heard at the FGC level to ensure he/she is granted some input and the process is more effectively “restorative”.

For victims, RJ has three primary objectives; the restoration of a sense of security, self-respect and dignity, as well as the restoration of a sense of control. Facing the perpetrator can help the victim to overcome the trauma, anger or fear in relation to the offence. However it works in different ways for different people. Kiera’s friend suffered from depression for a number of years after the attack and it’s unclear whether her experience of the RJ process exacerbated or lessened these problems.

Although restorative justice may not heal all wounds, it can be used as a healthy and more direct response to dealing with crime. The application in youth courts appears to be particularly appropriate and largely effective in most cases. Young people are likely to respond positively to the set up of RJ and to the dialogue it creates between the all the parties involved. Juvenile offenders also have a better chance of being rehabilitated than adults, therefore a RJ system focused on rehabilitation and reconciliation is extremely favourable. RJ can allow a flexible, effective and inclusive approach to the needs of young people who have broken the law, their victims and, indirectly, to the interests of the community as a whole.