President and CEO of Prison Fellowship International (PFI), Andrew D. Corley, and Lácides Hernández, president of Confraternidad Carcelaria de Colombia (Prison Fellowship Colombia), recently had the honour of being guest speakers at the Second Annual Latin American Congress of Restorative Justice. The event, hosted by countries Colombia and Argentina, took place virtually June 30 – July 3, 2020.

The theme for this year’s congress was “Building a culture of dialogue, peace, and human rights” with the objective to create a space for reflection and foresight in the restorative justice field and the culture of dialogue, peace, and human rights that contribute to building societies which have more solidarity, tolerance, participation, and inclusivity.

“It was a great privilege to be asked to speak,” said Corley. “In this endeavour, PFI worked alongside a global movement of partners who are committed to a more just society based on the principles of restorative justice. While PFI has been involved in restorative justice initiatives for over two decades, all efforts that support a culture of dialogue, peace, and human rights should be welcomed and encouraged. I am therefore very honoured to have played a small part in helping the congress achieve these goals.”

More than 1,200 participants from Latin America, Europe, and North America attended the congress, which included five panels and three experience sharing sessions. Corley spoke during the first panel on “Interpreting the nature of what is restorative: philosophical and epistemological contributions about the restorative field and the culture of peace.”

Hernández, who is also a PFI board member, served on the Executive Committee for the congress. He was part of the second experience sharing session, discussing the restorative approach from the models of indigenous, community, therapeutic, transitional, and transformative justice. “Within Latin America, there is a definite interest in transforming the justice system,” said Hernández. “Therefore, restorative justice is seen as an important complement to the traditional justice system.”

Restorative justice furthers PFI’s vision of breaking the cycle of crime and restore lives worldwide through Jesus’s love. The organization’s work in the field dates back to 1996, when they launched the Centre for Justice & Reconciliation (restorativejustice.org) to serve as its knowledge base. Now internationally recognized experts in the field, PFI has implemented restorative justice programs in over 40 countries.

The premise of restorative justice is that justice should repair the harm that comes from wrongdoing. Woven into this definition are three key ideas: encounter, repair, and transform. The ideas are interconnected, and together they represent a journey toward well-being and wholeness that victims, offenders, and community members can experience.

Other event speakers included leaders from professional, academic, governmental, and civil society institutions from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Bolivia, Uruguay, Spain, and Norway.

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