Committee of Supply 2024: Restorative Justice

Mr Chairman,

Restorative justice is a process of healing from the harm caused by another person’s actions. This process brings together everyone who were affected to dialogue, problem solve and rebuild their lives and relationships. Based on the premise that every individual has worth and needs to be regarded with dignity, it aims to establish social equality in relationships.

When spousal violence happens, it violates the intimate relationship, resulting in harm to self and others. Counselling for spousal violence normally involves the spouses. But spousal violence does not affect the spouses alone. It also has negative impact on the well-being of the children and other family members. Therefore, there is a need to address spousal violence in the context of needs of affected parties arising from the violence and to identify the obligations required by the different stakeholders to address the issue. The restorative justice approach, therefore, involves children and other family members in the counselling process.

Restorative justice seeks to restore victims, perpetrators, and families by addressing the harm caused by violence and seeking accountability and support to foster healing.

Numerous countries have adopted restorative approaches, including Canada, United Kingdom (UK), Australia, New Zealand, Norway, United States (US) and Japan. I understand that in Singapore this approach is also adopted with respect to juvenile offenders.

Is the restorative justice process currently adopted in counselling sessions involving cases of spousal violence? If not, would the Minister consider offering this as an option?