Restorative Justice in Nepal: A Double-Edged Sword

In a compelling presentation given by Ram Tiwari, the Founder Chair of Nepal Forum for Restorative Justice, the intricate state of restorative justice in Nepal and South Asia was unraveled. Tiwari, with his significant background in pioneering restorative justice projects in Nepal, delved deep into the delicate balance between traditional community justice mechanisms and contemporary restorative justice systems.

Ram’s wealth of experience in post-conflict settings, juvenile justice, and matters concerning sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking in persons, provided a rich backdrop for the discussion. His insights painted a vivid picture of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the intersection of these two forms of justice in the region.

The presentation began with a comprehensive overview of restorative justice’s evolution in Nepal and its broader significance in the South Asian context. Ram emphasized the potential of restorative justice in addressing conflicts, fostering reconciliation, and mending community ties.

However, the crux of Tiwari’s discourse focused on the double-edged nature of intertwining restorative justice with local community justice mechanisms. On one side, this fusion offers restorative justice a foothold, facilitating its acceptance and application at grassroots levels. This union provides the system with culturally resonant entry-points, potentially allowing for a broader change that respects and understands the region’s socio-cultural fabric.

Yet, Tiwari astutely highlighted the potential pitfalls. By merging too closely with community justice mechanisms, there’s a risk of stifling the very essence of restorative justice. Such an amalgamation could inadvertently stymie the momentum required to drive a distinct restorative justice movement in Nepal and neighboring areas. The intertwining could reduce the perceived necessity for a separate restorative justice initiative, potentially hampering its evolution and distinct impact.

Through detailed case studies and real-life examples, Ram showcased the delicate balance and the challenges of maintaining the integrity of restorative justice while leveraging community mechanisms for broader acceptance. He pointed out the inherent paradox: the very pathways that enable restorative justice to gain traction in Nepal might also lead to its dilution or even dissolution.

One of the presentation’s most striking moments was Tiwari’s reflection on his personal journey. His passion for pioneering restorative justice was evident, and his deep understanding of the Nepalese context added layers of nuance to the conversation. The audience was left contemplating the complexities of integrating a contemporary form of justice within a deeply rooted community fabric.

A spirited question and answer session followed the presentation, with attendees keen to explore the challenges and intricacies of applying restorative justice in their own contexts. Ram’s insights, rooted in both theory and on-the-ground experience, offered a beacon for those navigating similar terrains in different parts of the world.

In conclusion, Ram Tiwari’s presentation shed light on the delicate dance between traditional community justice mechanisms and restorative justice in Nepal and South Asia. His profound insights, coupled with a clarion call for vigilance in preserving the essence of restorative justice, made for an enlightening and thought-provoking session. The dual challenges and opportunities presented by this intertwining will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of restorative justice in the region for years to come.