A lawyer and mediation practitioner, Mr Valentino Buoro has called for the inclusion of ‘Restorative Justice Practitioners’ in the #EndSARS Judicial Panels of Inquiry, that have been established by various state governments across the country.
Buoro, in a statement issued to the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday, said that both the Federal and State Governments should see the ongoing #EndSARS protests in the country as an opportunity to reinvent the wheels of justice for the betterment of all citizens.
“The demand for justice for victims of police brutality presented a very robust opportunity to activate restorative justice as a practice in judicial proceedings in the country. State governments which have already set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry populated by litigators to hear victims complaints, may be getting something wrong if there are no adequate infusion of mediators and restorative justice practitioners in the panels,” he said.
Buoro noted that populating the panels with litigators and judges, would make the panel to be inclined to producing outright winners or losers in the matters which would be subject to their evaluation. He said that in the Judicial Panels of Inquiry, which are predominantly supervised by litigators, the opportunity to directly have the input of both the victims and offenders into the ultimate outcome of the sittings would be lost.
He said: “A restorative justice process will afford the victims the opportunity to tell their full stories and how their lives have been shattered by extra judicial killings of their loved ones. “They will have the opportunity to tell the tribunal how best their families can be compensated by the wrong done to them by the killer policemen.
“Restorative justice process will also afford the offending policemen the opportunity to tell their own stories; their motivations and or their state of mind when the shots were fired. They may be able to tell if what they did was at that time the best of their professional judgements or whatever. Having heard each other speak from the depths of their hearts; personal stories not circumscribed by any legal rules or dispositions, the families may forgive and have a closure without prejudice to their need for compensation.
“While the offender may have the opportunity for a remorse and apology for his indiscretion or alleged crime. This is without prejudice to recommendations for judicial trial and punishment for the alleged crime if eventually considered so in the light of the proceedings.”
The mediation practitioner also disclosed that a restorative justice process also allows for the participation of a representation of the community or public. He said the community will have the opportunity of expressing its own shock, apprehension and or opprobrium at the offender’s act.
“Notwithstanding the highly condemnable act of extra judicial killings, a thought must be spared for some of the accused policemen. This is given the facts before them that in the split moment of decision, may have erroneously thought they had taken the best of judgement.
“All these can only be unearthed in a restorative justice hearing,” he said.