European Society of Criminology annual conference location:Prague date:10-13 September 2014
Victimology Society of Serbia-VDS is one of the partners in the four years research project Developing alternative understandings of security and justice through restorative justice approaches in intercultural settings within democratic societies – ALTERNATIVE, which is coordinated by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), and funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The overall objective of the ALTERNATIVE project is to provide an alternative and deepened understanding of justice and security based on empirical evidence from four action research settings (Serbia, Austria, Hungary and Northern Ireland) of how to handle conflicts within intercultural contexts in democratic societies. Within the ALTERNATIVE, VDS is implementing a research Fostering victim-oriented dialogue in a multiethnic society, the aim of which is to develop alternative models of resolution of existing and prevention of future conflicts between members of different ethnic groups in Serbia, which may contribute to closing a circle of violence and the increase of overall security of the citizens. During 2013, VDS conducted an empirical research study on interethnic conflicts and the way people have been solving them. The aim was also to see how victims are treated, how security and justice are perceived, and what role restorative justice approaches have in dealing with conflicts and security. The research consisted of both qualitative and quantitative part. The contribution will consist from two parts. In the first part a brief overview of the project ALTERNATIVE will be given. Thereafter, we will focus on the research implemented in Serbia. After a short description of the research methodology, we will present main research findings related to the conflicts that have been evolving since 1990 between members of different ethnic groups in three multi-ethnic communities in Serbia, focusing on the prevalence and characteristics of victimisation and respondents’ notions of justice, i.e. mechanisms suitable to achieve justice in the concrete cases of victimisation they experienced. In the conclusion we will point out that respondents attribute high relevance to both formal and informal restorative approaches, suggesting the need of citizens in general, and victims in particular to actively participate in the process of conflict transformation and prevention of further victimisations.