Restorative Justice for Delinquents in Hong Kong: The Way Forward
DescriptionIn recent decades, restorative justice (RJ) has provided an alternative means for dealing with criminal matters and has emerged as one of the mainstream sentencing options in criminological practice worldwide. Among scholars, lawyers, and government officials in Taiwan and mainland China, there is growing interest in RJ such as mediation, criminal reconciliation, alternative measures to prosecution, and community correction programmes. RJ is currently regarded as an important element in criminal justice (CJ) systems for handling crimes in both Taiwan and mainland China. In mainland China, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) that were enforced in 2012 appear to have consolidated existing RJ practices and facilitated the future development of RJ. In Taiwan, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has adopted RJ as its priority policy of criminal justice reform. In 2010, the Government launched a pioneering programme entitled the ‘Restorative Justice Initiative’ (RJI), which was conducted at the District Prosecutor’s Office.Unlike Taiwan and mainland China, no statutory restorative measures have yet been incorporated into the mainstream criminal justice system in Hong Kong. Some nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) endeavour to develop innovative strategies to prevent misbehaving adolescents from delinquency. Despite these efforts, however, a statutory RJ option is not formally included in the CJ system in Hong Kong. As part of the 2015-17 General Research Fund (GRF) study on RJ in the Greater China Region, the PI investigated the laws, mechanisms and conditions that allow RJ to be used for treating delinquents in Taiwan and mainland China. Drawing upon existing research data from both jurisdictions, the present study will explore how RJ could be employed in Hong Kong. The study will be conducted in two phases. Phase one will focus on constructing a framework for implementing RJ in Hong Kong, built upon analysis of laws and policies currently adopted in Taiwan and mainland China. Phase two will include the collection of primary qualitative data through in-depth interviews, which will be used to develop effective service models of RJ in Hong Kong. The respondents will be drawn from five different groups of key informants including government officials and/or committee members involved in law reform, police, lawyers/prosecutors, judges, and social workers to examine their opinions concerning the future development of RJ. The research findings will make a significant contribution to the advancement of RJ theory and practices in Chinese communities. Furthermore, the publications will be a valuable addition to the growing RJ literature.
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