Critics’ Reviews

Pat Howley … describes the events of this period in which there was a conscious effort at marrying Melanesian custom with the growing Western concern for notions of restorative justice. This is not an academic work, either in terms of the systematic marshalling of relevant historical, legal and other material, nor in terms of the depth of analysis. However, it does provide some interesting insights, especially when the author utilises local people to tell the story from their own perspectives. – David Weisbrot, Reform, Issue 82, 2003

This is an inspired and inspiring account of the emergence from colony toward autonomy; from civil war (and the breakdown of the western court system) to the return of traditional peace making, supported by restorative justice and reconciliation.

The author is no armchair observer; for half a lifetime, he has lived amd worked in PNG and its island province 275k east of Rabaul. In the manner of a mediator, he allows other participants a voice, mainly PEACE Foundation staff and trainers.

In 1964, Australian Territories Minister Charles Barnes told Bougainvillians they had no right to the minerals under their ground. The residents rebelled against what they saw as a lack of consultation by Australia and CRA, against what the residents saw as an unjust distribution of the mineral wealth, against the refusal of those parties and PNG to engage in discussion, consultation and consensus building. Thus, the dragon’s teeth were sown; thus, the BRA was born.

The author gives a moving account of the triumph of the human need for peace and reconciliation over the imposition of control from without. Restorative justice encourages confession, honesty and sincerity because of a desire to end the matter completely and properly. Punitive justice in court encourages concealing and distorting the truth out of fear of punishment and the need to be victorious. Under the system of restorative justice, offenders are forgiven and return to the community where they have the chance to re-establish themselves as healthy, contributing members. People can get on with their lives instead of living in the past.

Mediators will recognise what they already know, namely that their process transcends race and culture. Historians will be fascinated by the insights of participants in a time of great change. The book can be commended to the general reader for the positive outcomes over a most negative situation. – Ethos (ACT Law Society), Autumn 2003

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