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Dr. Nathee Chitsawang delivered a keynote speech on “World Congress for Community Volunteers in Reintegration of Offenders”
“Volunteers can help their community form an acceptance for offenders while helping offenders reintegrate back into their role as one of the community members,”
highlighted Dr. Nathee Chitsawang, Advisor of the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ), in his keynote speech in an online ancillary meeting on “World Congress for Community Volunteers in Reintegration of Offenders” on 7 March 2021 at the Crime Congress in Kyoto, Japan.
The ancillary meeting on “World Congress for Community Volunteers in Reintegration of Offenders” was organized by the Ministry of Justice, Japan as a platform for relevant justice officers and Volunteer Probation Officers (VPOs) working in a probation system, or “Hogoshi System” as called in Japan, to exchange views, operational approaches, values, and attitudes to create an effective probation system on the basis of the collaboration between experts and volunteers.
This meeting started off with welcome and opening remarks and a panel discussion by panelists from various countries including the host country. The Hogoshi system is a widely accepted system which plays a major role in assisting offenders with effective social reintegration. Towards the end of the meeting, the floor was open for the participants to adopt the Kyoto Declaration on Community Volunteers Supporting Offender Reintegration or Kyoto Hogoshi Declaration, which aims to build an international network of community volunteers for the reintegration of offenders and to establish “HOGOSHI Day” or the International Day for Community Volunteers Supporting Offender Reintegration.
In this regard, Dr. Nathee Chitsawang, Advisor of TIJ, delivered a keynote speech on the roles of community volunteers in the radically changing and disruptive future. He mentioned a challenge which community volunteers currently have to encounter – people spend much more time on social media according to their personal thoughts and values. This results in a divergence in thoughts and values between the younger and older generations and the need for community volunteers to adapt in order to provide support to older offenders. Likewise, aging volunteers will also face this challenge. In addition, community volunteers need to receive continual training to be skilled at assisting offenders in effective social reintegration.
Dr. Nathee also offered key observations and suggestions on community volunteer system that States and relevant organizations should conduct in-depth research projects to establish evidence-based information for the development of community volunteer system in the future, and should make available tried-and-tested blueprints to help keep the implementation of community volunteer system truly effective.
The KYOTO HOGOSHI Declaration is a significant tool to establish international exchange platform. Countries that have successfully implemented volunteer probation systems can share their community-level crime prevention models, encouraging more countries to explore and adopt the approach. Positive awareness among the authorities and the public are equally essential. It is crucial that they are aware and acknowledge that the community volunteer system is complementary work that helps strengthen effective crime prevention.
“If we could develop a set of international standard minimum rules for community volunteer systems that consider cultural and social differences worldwide, we can raise the bar for community volunteer workers around the world in a uniform fashion, and it will be beneficial for the volunteering community”,
added Dr. Nathee. He left his final remark,
“Probation and community services only work if communities work with them. That’s why the efficiency of community volunteers supporting offenders’ reintegration is an extremely important part of the process.”
View the World Congress for Community Volunteers in Reintegration of Offenders and register at bit.ly/3kIj9Wl and updates are available at https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crimecongress/about.html or www.tijthailand.org
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