The Path to Peacemaking: Ikramul Hoque’s Vision for Restorative Justice in Bangladesh

In a riveting session, Ikramul Hoque, a trailblazer in the world of restorative justice in Bangladesh, shared his vision and journey toward integrating restorative practices into the fabric of the nation’s legal and social framework. His roots, deeply entrenched in the rich culture and history of Bangladesh, combined with his impressive academic foundation, positioned him uniquely to pioneer this transformative movement.

Born and raised in Bangladesh, Ikramul’s academic pursuits speak to his dedication to justice and the betterment of society. With degrees in Social Science, Laws, Political Science, and Victimology & Restorative Justice, he has dedicated his life to the understanding and application of justice in its most holistic sense.

It was inspiring to learn about his tenure as a Criminal Lawyer. Working within the traditional justice system provided him with insights into its challenges and limitations. It was this firsthand experience that led him to establish the “Bangladesh Restorative Justice Society”, a testament to his commitment to introducing alternative, more inclusive methods of resolving disputes and addressing criminal behavior.

But Ikramul’s vision went beyond just establishing an organization. In 2020, he embarked on a remarkable journey to foster the next generation of peacemakers. He began developing a mentoring program deeply rooted in restorative practices. His prevention, leadership, and mediation peer advocacy integrative curriculum aimed to equip young minds with the tools and mindset necessary for effective conflict resolution. The result was the pilot of the Victim-Offender Intermediary Legal Consultant Firm concept – a revolutionary approach that recognized the power of collective wisdom. By incorporating a team of five students working in a circle or panel format, the idea blossomed into the VOIL. This platform offers students a judgment-free space to express their views, opinions, and, importantly, their voices, further propagating the essence of restorative justice.

The heart of Ikramul’s presentation lay in his profound belief: “Peacemaking is a process of forgiveness, restoration, and justice.” These words resonated deeply with attendees, encapsulating the essence of restorative justice. His approach is not about retribution but about creating a bridge of understanding between conflicting parties. It is about healing wounds rather than inflicting punishment, about understanding the root causes of conflict rather than superficially addressing its manifestations.

The session provided an enlightening glimpse into the potential of restorative justice, especially in contexts similar to Bangladesh, where traditional justice systems often struggle with overwhelming caseloads and extended legal proceedings. Ikramul Hoque’s vision and work serve as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path for other nations and societies to recognize and adopt restorative practices as a means to truly achieve justice.

In conclusion, Ikramul Hoque’s presentation wasn’t merely an exposition of his work but a call to action for every individual to rethink the way we perceive justice. It was a reminder that at the heart of every conflict lies an opportunity for understanding, restoration, and ultimately, peace. His efforts in Bangladesh are a testament to what’s possible when passion meets purpose.