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A Kind of Mending

A Kind of Mending: Restorative Justice in the Pacific Islands

Edited by Sinclair Dinnen
Anita Jowitt
Tess Newton
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    A Kind of Mending
    Book Description:

    With their rich traditions of conflict resolution and peacemaking, the Pacific Islands provide a fertile environment for developing new approaches to crime and conflict. Interactions between formal justice systems and informal methods of dispute resolution contain useful insights for policy makers and others interested in socially attuned resolutions to the problems of order that are found increasingly in the Pacific Islands as elsewhere. Contributors to this volume include Pacific Islanders from Vanuatu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea including Bougainville, as well as outsiders with a longstanding interest in the region. They come from a variety of backgrounds and include criminal justice practitioners, scholars, traditional leaders and community activists. The chapters deal with conflict in a variety of contexts, from interpersonal disputes within communities to large-scale conflicts between communities. This is a book not only of stories but also of practical models that combine different traditions in creative ways and that offer the prospect of building more sustainable resolutions to crime and conflict.

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-83-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. list of abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. list of maps
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  7. restorative justice in the pacific islands: an introduction
    (pp. 1-34)
    Sinclair Dinnen

    Most of the chapters in this book were presented as papers at a three-day conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in June 2000. Organised jointly by the Australian National Universityʹs State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Project and the Law School of the University of the South Pacific (USP), the conference was held at the Emalus Campus of USP. ʹRestorative Justice and Conflict Management in the Pacific Islandsʹ provided the broad theme for discussion of different approaches to crime and conflict in the Pacific Islands and, in particular, in the Melanesian countries that provide the research focus of the SSGM...

  8. the fundamentals of restorative justice
    (pp. 35-44)
    John Braithwaite

    RESTORATIVE JUSTICE is conceived of in this essay as a process in which all the stakeholders affected by an injustice have the opportunity to discuss the consequences of the injustice and what might be done to put them right. This is a process conception of restorative justice by which what is to be restored is left open. Rather, the form of restoration of victims, of offenders and of communities that count are those found to be important in such a restorative justice process. Beyond the process conception, there is also a values conception of restorative justice. The key value is...

  9. the age of steam: constructed identity and recalcitrant youth in a Papua New Guinea village
    (pp. 45-72)
    Michael Goddard

    The exploration of restorative justice as a constructive alternative to retributive or punitive justice is an attractive and worthwhile project. Restorative justice aims to restore social harmony, make amends to victims and reintegrate offenders into the community.² Prefacing a careful appraisal of both optimistic and negative accounts of restorative justice, John Braithwaite makes the seemingly innoccuous comment that restorative justice is present particularly in the families, schools and churches of all cultures, and that ʹall cultures must adapt their restorative traditions in ways that are culturally meaningful to themʹ.³ However, as an anthropologist I approach matters of tradition and cultural...

  10. tribal warfare and transformative justice in the new guinea highlands
    (pp. 73-94)
    Alan Rumsey

    In his recent wide-ranging review of the theory and practice of restorative justice, John Braithwaite proposes that all cultures have traditions of restorative and retributive justice and, that ʹin the circumstances of the modern world, they will find their restorative traditions a more useful resource than their retributive traditionsʹ.¹ In this chapter I am going to be weighing up these assertions about ʹall culturesʹ against evidence from one particular culture area where I have been doing anthropological fieldwork over the past twenty years, the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. This is a region with a justified reputation for recurrent...

  11. restorative justice and women in vanuatu
    (pp. 95-100)
    Rita Naviti

    When I was approached to make a contribution to this conference on restorative justice in relation to women, I immediately said: ʹI will think about itʹ. It was an indirect way of saying, ʹWhat is it?ʹ I spent the next two days thinking about it and went through a few books that I have on justice, and found NOTHING! What could it be? I had to get more information from someone who knows of justice beyond Vanuatu and, perhaps, the region.

    The person I consulted laughed and said: ʹAh! RESTORATIVE JUSTICE … new concepts where parties to cases or conflicts...

  12. vanuatu law, the police and restorative justice
    (pp. 101-104)
    Peter Bong

    IN MY VIEW, proper research is needed before a review of the police is undertaken and before existing laws are revised so that they can better address the needs of the South Pacific region, particularly in Melanesian and Polynesian societies. During the past, legislation in Vanuatu was framed primarily from the perspective of Western society and its legal system. Such legislation bypassed the customary laws of our communities and the powers held by our customary chiefs. And yet customary systems have long been the foundation of our society and lie close to its heart. Due to those colonial arrangements the...

  13. restorative programs in the formal justice system of vanuatu
    (pp. 105-108)
    Vincent Lunabek

    Much recent activity in the field of civil justice reform has concentrated on the courts and the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This is a limited view of the enterprise for both practical and theoretical reasons. In simple terms of volume and seriousness, disputes that are resolved by administrative agencies are of enormous day-to-day importance to citizens. Viewed as part of the gradual devolution of judicial tasks to bodies outside the court system, administrative agencies are where ADR originated.

    There is much to learn from how the matters that were diverted from the courts were identified, and from how...

  14. conflict resolution in a multi-cultural urban setting in papua new guinea
    (pp. 109-114)
    John Ivoro

    My name is John Ivoro and I was born in the Goilala District in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. I attended primary school there and then went on to Bereina De La Salle High School as a boarder where I completed Grade 10. After completing Grade 10, I studied at the College of Allied Health and Sciences in Port Moresby for nearly three years. Because I needed to earn money to fulfil family obligations, I left before graduation and began work in the PNG Tax Office in 1980. When I started with the Tax Office, I moved to...

  15. restorative justice in papua new guinea: a collaborative effort
    (pp. 115-122)
    Ruby Zarriga

    Development is a special type of growth and change that affects communities in many different ways. Community development is a much over-used term that has come to mean all things to all people. We need to have a clear idea of what it means, however, before we can begin to do it. Experience has shown that many so-called community development projects and programs are neither about development nor do they involve the community in a meaningful way. Sometimes the people that work on such projects, often unselfishly and at great personal sacrifice, end up doing more harm than good.


  16. rehabilitation for change in fiji: a women’s initiative
    (pp. 123-138)
    Peni Moore

    WHEN I BEGAN this chapter, Fiji was a democratic country with an elected Peopleʹs Coalition Government led by the Fiji Labour Party. The last few weeks have given Fiji something quite different.²

    The Peopleʹs Coalition Government was the first of any Fijian government to show any interest in prison rehabilitation. It established a Cabinet Subcommittee to review existing conditions and programs.

    Womenʹs Action for Change (WAC) has been conducting programs in the prison for the last eighteen months, using drama as a means of rehabilitation and education. Writing to the Permanent Secretary for Justice, the Assistant Commissioner of Prisons praised...

  17. the vanuatu cultural centre’s juvenile justice project
    (pp. 139-144)
    Joemela Simeon

    IF SOMEONE had asked me to define restorative justice, back in April this year before I began work on the Juvenile Justice Project, I would honestly have said that I did not have a single clue about its meaning. However, I agree entirely with the Honourable Sela Molisa (who spoke at the opening of the conference) and a number of other contributors to this volume, in acknowledging that, although the term ʹrestorative justiceʹ may be foreign, it nonetheless refers to a practice that has been used in most, if not all, of our Melanesian societies prior to our colonisation.


  18. the lakalakabulu area council of chiefs in vanuatu
    (pp. 145-148)
    Paul Vuhu

    AFTER MUCH PLANNING and research, the Lakalakabulu Area Council of Chiefs was established on 6th March 1996. This Area Council has authority over Nasalokoro, Lolovange, Saranavihi and Ambanga villages on North Ambae. The Council is well known throughout different communities on Ambae Island and Penama Province as a whole.

    The Lakalakabulu Area Council of Chiefs has three main aims:

    to protect and safeguard the general welfare and rights of our indigenous people;

    to protect and promote our traditional values;

    to resolve disputes and disagreements in a customary way.

    Since its inception, the Council has taken a leading role in resolving...

  19. re-inventing the cultural wheel: re-conceptualizing restorative justice and peace building in ethnically divided Fiji
    (pp. 149-164)
    Steven Ratuva

    Political tension in Fiji oscillates in a complex way between two levels of political engagement. The first of these is the level of inter-communal relations, especially between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians. The second is the level of intracommunal intercourse, often reflected in conflict within a community itself. Continuous interplay between these two levels of conflict redefines the political configuration of Fijiʹs socio-political terrain in a dynamic way. This chapter is only concerned with inter-ethnic conflict, its various manifestations and in exploring new possibilities for conflict resolution. Inter-ethnic conflict has become a part of the ʹnormalʹ political culture in Fiji with...

  20. informal justice in law and justice reform in the pacific region
    (pp. 165-176)
    Alumita Durutalo

    The Fiji islands, known as ʹVitiʹ amongst indigenous Fijians, have been regarded as the place where both Polynesian and Melanesian people have settled during their east–west and west–east Pacific migrations. These islands demonstrate Polynesian and Melanesian characteristics in their peopleʹs physical features and material culture. In approximately 300 islands about five hundred dialects are spoken by indigenous communities.

    When Europeans began arriving in large numbers in the 1800s, the ancient, basic social unit in Fijian communities was the I Tokatoka, or extended family unit. Both patrilineal and matrilineal structures featured in some parts of Fiji. A number of...

  21. restorative justice in the solomon islands
    (pp. 177-194)
    Father Norman Arkwright

    Most inhabitants of this multilingual and multicultural country which is the Solomon Islands are familiar with the concept of compensation for offending behaviour. Customary payments of fines in the form of traditional shell or feather money (worked into decorative strings or belts or bands), dolphin teeth, pigs, yams or betel nut and such, have been strained to the utmost as a result of the recent conflict.

    One of the longstanding sources of tension among these islands peoples has been the rivalry between Guadalcanal and Malaita. On Guadalcanal, with its vast empty areas, lies the national capital Honiara, the main centre...

  22. bougainville women’s role in conflict resolution in the bougainville peace process
    (pp. 195-214)
    Ruth Saovana-Spriggs

    THE THEME of the conference for which this chapter was prepared was ʹconflict management and restorative justiceʹ. It entailed discussion of alternative approaches to the retributive justice system but ones that could be integrated into the overall legal system. Restorative justice is sometimes said to be rooted in the traditions of small-scale indigenous societies, such as in the Pacific Islands. It is wholesome, inclusive of people (including both the victims and the offenders), allows a sense of communal responsibility and participation in the process of dealing with law and order problems. It is unlike the formal institutionalised court systems, which...

  23. restorative justice in bougainville
    (pp. 215-254)
    Br Patrick Howley

    Peace Foundation Melanesia is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) which has been active in Bougainville since 1994. It was set up to empower village people and organisations with self-understanding, knowledge and skills to deal with their own community justice issues. It has offered a variety of training courses in People Skills, Conflict Resolution Mediation, Negotiation, Counselling and Community Development Training.

    In the past, before colonial times, the villages of Bougainville had been relatively self-governing and autonomous. Over the years, changes have taken place due to the influence of colonial governments, the greater mobility of people and the controls limiting the power...

  24. a marriage of custom and introduced skills: restorative justice, bougainville style
    (pp. 255-264)
    John Tombot

    I was born in 1959 in the Siwai District of south-west Bougainville and brought up during the colonial time attending a Catholic school until grade six. When I left school I returned to live with my parents in our village. It was in 1975, the year of Papua New Guineaʹs independence, that I first became involved in community work, especially with young people. But before I talk about that work, I want to give some background on how people from my area perceive their history.

    My father was a paramount chief. He used to solve disputes in our traditional way,...

  25. epilogue some thoughts on restorative justice and gender
    (pp. 265-280)
    Margaret Jolly

    It is always a challenge to be asked to give a keynote address and especially so on a subject you know little about. I barely knew the words and very little of the concept or practice of restorative justice until a few weeks ago. Then, like Alan Rumsey, I started swotting over the voluminous writings of John Braithwaite and Sinclair Dinnen¹. What I say today owes something to that reading but also to listening yesterday. I learnt a lot from the rich presentations of scholars, of policy makers and especially those practitioners of peace — those involved in the arduous,...

  26. references
    (pp. 281-292)
  27. index
    (pp. 293-308)
  28. about the editors
    (pp. 309-310)