As a part of its major activities the Civil Society Institute has been in close cooperation with the newly established Probation Service of Armenia, by offering technical, informational and expert support and advice. This role is part of the CSI’s work to improve situation of the persons in conflict with law as well as support and promote the development of effective full-fledged Probation Service in Armenia.
On 13 July 2016, a workshop event took place in CSI’s premises. The event was organized by CSI to discuss the basics of the mediation in context of the victim-offender reconciliation programs, the activity, which is an intrinsic part of the new Law on Probation.
The impetus for this meeting came from the routine on-going consultations with Mr. Avetisyan, the Head of Alternative Sanctions Enforcement Division, and the agency on the basis of which the Probation Service is being built. The need for capacity building workshops and trainings for the staff in the period preceding to entering into force the provisions on mediation as of 2018 was identified. This challenge has now become an imperative for the destiny of the victim-offender reconciliation institute, the novelty introduced by the Law on Probation. Taking into account this request CSI has decided to organize a workshop, dedicated to the concept of mediation and its role in victim-offender reconciliation process.
In the light of foregoing the overall objective of the workshop was to start the work on capacity building of the persons responsible for the development and implementation of future victim-offender mediation programs on practical skills of mediation in the criminal justice sector for better management of cases of the beneficiaries of Probation Service and promotion of the culture of restorative justice in Armenia. The objective was achieved through presentations, practical demonstrations and question and answer session.
CSI involved international experts in the field of mediation and long-time CSI partners, Prof. Georg Albers, and Mr. Dirk Splinter. Prof. Dr. Georg Albers is a political scientist and social worker, represents Munster Catholic University of Applied Sciences. Mr. Dirk Splinter is a practicing mediator, instructor and training supervisor for Mediation, co-director of inmedio private mediation company from Berlin, Germany. Artak Kirakosyan, CSI president, was selected as national expert and the third key speaker of the workshop.The participation of international experts was secured through additional funding from German Academic Exchange Service.
CSI sought to reach all agencies what are expected to be included in facilitating of reconciliation programs within the framework of Probation service. The final list of the invitees comprised representatives of the staff of Probation Service, non-commercial state organizations working with offenders, national mediators, interested in the development of the mediation in the field of criminal justice.
The workshop included the introduction into the concept of mediation and its essential role in victim-offender reconciliation process. The major issues addressed by the key speakers included:
- Conflict and its dynamics, escalation/de-escalation.
- Differentiating between "positions" and "interests" as an essential component of dispute solving.
- Principles of effective mediation: confidentiality and voluntariness.
- Mediation in the context of victim-offender reconciliation.
The issues raised during the presentation generated a broad response from all the participants. Question and answer session, which followed the presentations, went beyond the time allocated for the workshop. During the discussions and recommendations from the participants it became clear that there is an urgent need to develop a study module for the training of the persons who will implement the victim-offender reconciliation mission within the Probation service.