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Uppbyggileg réttvísi - hryðjuverk á Evrópuráðherrafundi.

Helsinki 7. til 8. apríl, 2005.

8.4.2005

 

 

 Uppbyggileg réttvísi.

At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. Minister, for your hospitality and taking up the important subject of restorative justice. Not least I would like to congratulate you on the report on the social aspects of justice, a very useful and informative paper which will serve as a reference document not only here today but also in the future work on enhancing restorative justice.

 

In the past few years restorative justice has rightly been given increased emphasis in all criminal policy discussions.

 

            In Iceland we have taken the first steps towards restorative justice by developing a mediaton through a project based on an American model, called Restorative Justice Circle, which has been adapted to our conditions.

 

The project is confined to reactions to destruction of property and theft committed by children below the criminal responsibility age. The project has focused on children at the age of 13-15 years, and younger children have also been offered the possibility of taking part in a special version of the project designed to link the child to its family or school.

 

The purpose is to provide a child who has committed an offence with an opportunity to learn from its experience and to make a contribution to the safety of its environment, thus making restitution for its conduct. The method employed involves working with the victim, the offender, the offender’s family and a representative of the community.

 

With reference to the project´s good results, it has now been decided that mediation is to be experimentally adopted into the Icelandic criminal justice system, and the necessary preparations are being carried out.

 

As concerning imprisonment, many amendments have been made to Icelandic law in the purpose of limiting repetition. Law has come to provide for various expedients that may be resorted to outside of penal institutions in order to aid offenders in abstaining from crime and promote their rehabilitation to society at large. Suspended sentences, suspended indictments and community service are but examples of this.

 

Mr. Chairman.

 

In my opinion the Council of Europe has an important role to play in promoting the restorative justive approach. For all of us it is of great value to learn about the experiences of effective practices in member countries. As is stated in the Finnish background paper: It is often the practical experience that overrides any general principles and recommendations when trying to learn how to improve one´s criminal justice system. I urge the Council of Europe to continue to be such an important forum where we can compare notes on our justice system in order to improve it.

 

In this respect, I agree with the invitation to the Committee of Ministers to support and develop programmes in order to promote the application of restorative justice in our countries on the basis of the Council of Europe´s recommendations in this field.

 

Barátta gegn hryðjuverkum.

 

Yesterday the point was made by our Dutch collegue, that we might not be in need of more international conventions – terrorism would not be fought by new legal instruments but by the enforcement of laws and conventions.

 

As you remember we were unanimous at our meeting in Sofia in October 2003 in supporting the UN process of drafting a Comprehensive Convention against terrorism and called on members states in the Council of Europe to contribute to the discussions in the UN with the intention of resolving the outstanding issues in negotiations on the UN Comprehensive Convention against terrorism and on the draft UN Convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

 

A UN Comprehensive Convention has not yet be negotiated, we can however welcome the finalisation within the United Nations at expert level of a draft International convention for the suppression og acts of nuclear terrorism.

 

At our meeting here in Helsinki we have been informed about a dissension between the Council of Europe and the European Union on some of the Council’s new conventions..

 

This only confirms that it is not at all an easy task to formulate international texts on the fight against terrorism, although we all agree on the necessity of our close co-operation in this fight..

 

I took part in Third High Level multilateral meeting of Ministers of Interior on the theme of the “Fight against terrorism and organised crime to improve security in Europe” in Warsaw some weeks ago.

 

Here as at that meeting I want to thank the Committee of Experts on Terrorism for its important work. I am convinced that the work of the committee is not only beneficial to the member states of the Council of Europe. In my mind it is of universal value and a major contribution towards defining a sensibile legal framework in the fight against terrorism and organised crime – as it is very hard to draw a line between the two.

 

It is of great importance that States have clear international guidelines when they undertake to upgrade their national legislation dealing with counter-terrorism.

 

States are often walking on a thin line when enforcing the law in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, and in this field States are under strict scrutiny of European and UN institutions.

 

For instance when special investigation techniques to fight terrorism are legalised it is of vital importance for States to have these techniques recognized by internatioal law. If the rules of the game are unclear, States are in a grey area and risk to be accused of  restricting  people’s exercise of normal rights in a democratic society.

 

Mr. Chairman.

 

I mention this here as it is very relevant to our discussion – States need to have some agreed and comprehensive guidelines when discussing  and enforcing national prevention policies - we have to find the indispensable balance between the fight against terrorism on the one hand and the protection of human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law on the other.

 

We will not be able to reach our goal of increased security without co-operation between states and within states and we have to inform our citizens in order to engage them in this important task and in our support for our new European instruments.

 



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