‘We need people to turn from revenge to restoration’

Ida Hydle brings the Norwegian perspective

Ida Hydle

Ida Hydle

Dr. Ida Hydle is a medical doctor and has a PhD within the field of social medicine. She also has a PhD in social anthropology. Ida is a senior researcher at the Norwegian Social Research institute in Oslo, NOVA, and she has been working with the field of restorative justice for 15 years.

Ida made the change from a medical professional to the field of social anthropology. ‘I was researching violence as an important cause of physical and mental health damage in the eighties’, Ida says. ‘That is how I ended up doing a PhD in legal anthropology on a murder case. I studied the criminal legal chain as a field where the state handles serious crime.’

‘There is still much to do’

‘I was then asked by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice to evaluate a project in Norway that tried out restorative justice as a supplement to criminal justice for four years’, Ida explains. ‘We found that people who have experienced serious crimes, both victims and offenders, their families and bystanders, need different things than the criminal legal trial to feel release and to continue living a decent life after the crime. There is still much to do. We need people, and this includes authorities as well as the general public to turn from revenge to restoration. I am part of a huge group of people in the world saying this.’
Eventually, this lead to a meeting with professor Ivo Aertsen, from the KULeuven, who is also the project coordinator for project ALTERNATIVE. ‘In the beginning of 2000, I was asked to join a COST Action (a scholar network financed by the EU, red.) with Ivo, to be part of a European network of restorative justice research and practice developments. And now I am part of ALTERNATIVE.’

‘There is no good theory without good practice’

The ALTERNATIVE project is different from other projects, according to Ida. ‘The project is part of the European Commission’s own research portfolio. They have funded our project as a restorative project within the security field, which is really extraordinary. This project encourages an alternative way of thinking, partly with a bottom-up perspective. The focus lies on the local communities and not on the states.’

‘I am pleased with the project’, Ida says. ‘It is a good group of clever people who think very practically. We discovered that most of us are based in community work. We are used to working with people who are at conflict or who are using violence. Most of us have experience in organising community work. We are organisers. When we discovered each other as practitioners with a long background, it was a real added value. There is no good theory without good practice and no good practice without good theory.’

‘States and governments have a responsibility to stop this’

The project is coming to an end. In February 2016, the project will officially come to a close. ‘When the project is done, I would love to see the messages of the project implemented on a local and on a European level’, Ida says. ‘One of those messages is for example that people become more anxious the more surveillance equipment you bring into a society, while people will feel more secure with bringing in more knowledge about restorative practices. Also the practical organisation of handling conflict, of talking to each other to find a better future solution in common. Another message would be the methodology of how to be with each other in an alternative way, on a local and international level.’

Ida, who works in Norway, believes ALTERNATIVE is important for her country. ‘Norway is very affluent in the offer of social services and welfare services, compared to other European countries. Yet the project could still be useful in Norwegian society’, Ida explains. ‘The military industries and the surveillance industries are barriers to restorative justice and restorative practices on a local level and on a global scale. Norway is high on the list of weapon dealers in the world. Also the pharmaceutical industry has an interest in keeping people anxious and feeling unsafe. They can sell their antidepressants only to people who are anxious and depressed. The industries influence politics, research and bureaucracy. For them it would be counterproductive to reduce anxiety and depression in the population by other means. This is market creation. But states and governments have a responsibility to change this.’

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