26 August 2010
Ida Hydle & Berit Albrecht
Since today's civil society in the Nordic countries is multi-ethnic, participants and mediators in restorative justice procedures often have diverse cultural backgrounds. This can lead to miscommunication, misunderstandings, and at worst re-victimization of the victim. This article aims to discuss the applicability of restorative justice theory and practices in cross¬culture mediation with a focus on migrant minorities such as immigrants and refugees in Finland and Norway. On the basis of case studies and interviews with mediators and administrative mediation staff in both countries, relevant issues as communication processes, prejudices and stereotypes, the role of the mediator and mediation models are discussed.
The study explains advantages of the restorative justice system in Norway and Finland for minorities as well as the need of safeguards. It demonstrates that restorative justice theory is a more appropriate means of conflict resolution for minorities from certain ethnic groups than from others. Finally, the value of restorative justice for the social integration of minorities is critically discussed. The purpose of this article is to draw attention to problems of restorative justice for ethnic migrant minorities, not to provide "handbook-solutions". In the course of this research project, it became clear that more systematic research is needed. including the perspective of participants in mediations to a higher degree, in order to enhance appropriate restorative justice practices for migrant minorities in the Nordic countries.