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Globalization and Restorative Justice: in the Thai Criminal Justice System

Jutharat Ua-amnoey*

Restorative justice has recently become popular as a social movement in Thailand. This social phenomenon has been relatively successful in North America, Europe and Australia in terms of bringing crime victims and communities together and diverting less serious crimes and .young offenders from the mainstream system. Thus, this study aims to find out how the global trend of restorative justice has emerged in Thailand and reformed the authoritarian regime of the Thai criminal justice system. This paper discusses the causes and consequences that combined to affect the rise of restorative, justice in Thai society and changed the ideological view of the government as a result.

This research shows that restorative justice came to Thailand from both outside-in forces and inside-out forces. The former influence comes. from the international or state system that defines United Nations activities, the movement of the global civil society in restorative justice and the adoption of the idea by the change agents in the Thai criminal justice system who attended the United Nations Congress and expert group meetings. Even more influential, the inside-out forces come from the declination of the retribution paradigm in the Thai criminal justice system and the powerful movement of the change agent in gradually extending this idea through various .strategies. The result of these influences is that the Cabinet ‘s resolution of 10 February 2004 accepted this idea of restorative justice and the Ministry of Justice has begun to implement it in Thailand.

1. Introduction

In recent years, Thailand's criminal justice system has just begun to warm to the idea of "restorative justice." Once received at a government level, the concept was introduced to the whole of Thai

society as a resolution for the crisis of overcrowded prisons, a solution deemed to have fewer negative effects on the stakeholders, crime victims, offenders, and communities. Thai scholars in various fields, including legal, social welfare, criminology and criminal justice, were unsure how the western notion of restorative justice could be successfully transplanted to this eastern country and how the existing system could initially make room for crime victims in the mainstream criminal justice system in such a short time. Despite these misgivings, criminal justice agencies accepted the use of restorative justice and the concept was endorsed by the Cabinet's resolution of 10 February 2004. This endorsement means that the government has agreed to use restorative justice programs as an alternative to dispute resolution and furthermore, the government has provided funds to launch the necessary programs.

It seems that the new trends in law and criminal justice, trends that ride the wave of globalization, have threatened the Thai judicial system and have initiated most of the changes that occurred in Thailand. However, this time the change is in reviving the role of crime victims and communities into the thinking and praxis of the criminal justice system. So, this social phenomenon inspired me to ask some critical questions: "why should the Thai criminal justice
system accept this ideology and allow space. for those marginal characteristics, crime victims and communities participation, in such a formal power system? What are the qualifications of restorative justice? Is it somehow possible that an important domino was pushed somewhere in this global society that affected the paradigm shift in the Thai criminal justice system, from retributive justice to restorative justice? And by what means was the restorative justice movement launched in Thailand where the rule of law was paramount? At the same time, could it he that there is some catalytic crisis in the Thai mainstream criminal justice or court-based system that gives a
fillip to this system?

Research Problems
This research, then addresses the above issues, focusing mainly on the question of how this social phenomenon will emerge in and reform the authoritarian regime of the Thai criminal justice system. This paper will also consider the factors that led to this change and will speculate on how they will affect the views of the international community. Consequently, the purpose of this study is two-fold. First, intent is to find the general value concepts, the praxis concept, and the successful characteristics of restorative justice. Second, I intend to explain how the caused and consequences combined to affect the rise of restorative justice in the Thai criminal system.

Part 2             Footnote

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