RESTORATIVE justice can deeply impact the mind-sets and lives of Fiji law offenders and change their lives for the better.
Practised in countries all over the world from New Zealand to Sweden, restorative justice emphasises repairing the harm caused by crime.
When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational.
And this is the view of visiting chairman of the Prison Fellowship International Malaysia, Dr Kah Hock Tan.
Dr Tan, who is in the country for the Arise Fiji Conference as a guest of Dr Esther King, said restorative justice was a system of justice working wonders in his home country of Malaysia and had the potential to do the same here.
"Ultimately the goal of restorative justice is to mediate between the offender and the victim and through it if a crime is small then there can be alternative means of punishment," he said.
Dr Tan said it was especially effective in minor crimes such as theft of small items, one such example he used was an arrangement for an offender to wash the car of his victim over a span of time as a means of punishment.
He said this form of justice would ensure that minor and juvenile offenders were not exposed to prison life for small infractions.
However, Dr Tan also acknowledged that because of the nature of restorative justice, there existed opinions that it was a soft alternative and allowed people to get away with crimes. He however said, if the crime was of a severe nature then the rule of law would have to take its course.
Speaking on the Arise Fiji Conference, Dr Tan said it was a gathering of different denominations for a time of revival and restoration. He said churches would come together in a show of unity and praise with the first Arise Fiji Conference.