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Stories from Africa

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Stories from Africa

Seeking Reconciliation in Botswana
As a result of regular in-prison activities, PF Botswana receives requests from families who want to reconcile with their family members. Often, the relatives are also direct victims of the offender.
Tending deep wounds
In October, PF South Africa held its last scheduled Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) course for 2013 in Pretoria Women’s Correctional Centre. The 18 prisoners and six victims addressed many issues related to crime and the harm that it causes. For one, the programme offered an opportunity to address the deep wounds of racism and violence from her country’s past.
Legal aid in Togo
At the end of 2012, 65% of the 4,060 people in Togo’s prisons were on pre-trial detention[1]. According to one human rights report[2], the majority of those were eligible for release as they had served half of the possible sentence for the crime with which they had been charged. In response, PF Togo created a legal aid programme to assist prisoners in accessing this benefit.
Developing Dialogue in South Africa
In March 2013, the Department of Correctional Services invited the members of PF South Africa’s Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) team at Pretoria Female Centre to become part of the Victim Offender Dialogue Commission in their area. The team, having worked to facilitate dialogue between indirect victims and offenders over the last three years, will now help ten of those prisoner participants to meet directly with their victims to make amends. As a part of the commission, the PF South Africa team will help locate and prepare those crime survivors wishing to participate in the dialogues.
Promoting Restorative Justice in Cameroon
In October 2012, PF Cameroon partnered with the National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) to host a one-day awareness raising seminar on restorative justice. Attendees included representatives of key stakeholder groups such as the Ministry of Justice, media outlets, the Cameroon Bar Association, Parliament, and various international development agencies. Presenters discussed various aspects of restorative justice theory, practices from different countries, and ways of introducing the concepts in Cameroon.
Sycamore Tree Takes Root in Nigeria
In January 2012, PF Nigeria ran its first Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) courses following facilitator training led by Dan Van Ness in September 2011. The positive response to the pilots in Ogun and Plateau states encouraged the leadership to expand implementation to four other states.
Characteristics of Effective Sycamore Tree Project® Facilitators
As Prison Fellowship national organisations seek to implement the Sycamore Tree Project®(STP), they ask, “Who should facilitate? What skills are required?”
PF Swaziland volunteer brings victims and offenders together
Recently, Dennis Shongwe responded to a case of common assault in his community by approaching both the victim and the offender to ask if they wanted to participate in a restorative conference. In doing so, the active PF Swaziland volunteer decided to put into practice some of the concepts he learned at the International Diploma in Restorative Justice course in July 2011.
Reaching the marginalized in Lesotho
In late August, PF Lesotho partnered with World Vision for a three day workshop titled “Community Building Agents.” Serving 20 young males known as “herd boys” the workshop sought to raise awareness about the harm of crime and the responsibility for actions taken.
Sycamore Tree and its legacy in Rwanda
PF Rwanda first implemented its adaptation of the Sycamore Tree Project® -- the Umuvumu Tree Project – in 2002 in response to the continuing tensions and trauma related to the 1994 genocide. As of May 2011, 45,000 prisoners and 10,000 community members have participated in the programme resulting in statements of forgiveness and acts of reconciliation. In the words of one participant, “It is amazing how victims and perpetrators can come together today and have discussions about the past, present, and future without fear.”
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