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Guest editorial.

The issue is dedicated to criminology in Asia. As a result of globalisation and the recent financial crisis in the western world, Asia has been thrust into the limelight. In the past decade, many Asian criminologists who were educated in the West have returned to their home countries to develop criminology degree programmes and conduct criminological research. However, they face a number of barriers in conducting comparative research at home:

1. Differences in language: Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, India and the Islamic countries all speak different languages, resulting in publishing locally rather than internationally in journals in the English language. Some examples of these journals are: the Indian Journal of Criminology; the Japanese Journal of Sociological Criminology; and Crime and Criminal Justice International of Taiwan.

2. Diversity in culture and religion: Neighbouring nations have their own religions, such as Hinduism, Confucian, Islam and Buddhism, which guide their own criminal justice philosophy and policies.

3. Uniqueness in crime control and rehabilitation: As a result of diversity in culture and religion, every country has its own focus and rationale in law enforcement and crime control. For instance, Singapore has a higher incarceration rate than many less economically-developed Asian nations because of its unique policing strategy and sentencing policy.

4. Resistance to research: Research data in many Asian nations is not available to the public or not made transparent; crime data is usually politically sensitive (Liu, 2009).

John Braithwaite once said:
   An Asian Society of Criminology has long been needed to match the
   strength of innovation in criminal justice effectiveness in Asia
   with research excellence and research community. Journals with an
   Asian focus are also a very important part of this ... [M]aking
   this research community a reality ... will inspire future
   generations of young criminologists. (2009)

With the efforts made by criminologists in Mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, India and Pakistan, the Asian Criminological Society was founded in December 2009 in Macau SAR, China. It exists to promote the study of criminology and criminal justice across Asia, and to enhance co-operation in the fields of criminology and criminal justice by scholars and practitioners. It also encourages communication between criminologists and criminal justice practitioners in Asia and the world through publications and conferences, and fosters training and research in criminology and criminal justice in educational institutions and criminal justice organisations (Asian Criminological Society 2011). A website was developed for Asian criminologists to provide advance notice of forthcoming meetings, scholarly conferences, employment opportunities, publications, and criminology programme highlights.

In close association with the Society is the Asian Journal of Criminology, shaped in Hong Kong in 2004-5 and launched in Australia in 2005-6. It aims to advance the study of criminology and criminal justice, promoting evidence-based public policy in crime prevention, and comparative studies on crime and criminal justice. It provides a platform for discussion and the exchange of ideas among criminologists, policymakers, and practitioners, by publishing papers relating to crime, crime prevention, criminal law, medico-legal topics and the administration of criminal justice in Asian countries. The focus is on theoretical and methodological papers with an emphasis on evidence-based, empirical research addressing crime in Asian contexts. It presents research from a broad variety of methodological traditions, including quantitative, qualitative, historical, and comparative methods. Its multidisciplinary approach spans a range of disciplines, including criminology, criminal justice, law, sociology, psychology, forensic science, social work, urban studies, history, and geography (Asian Journal of Criminology, 2011).

The above scholarly trend continues; in 2009, the Pakistan Journal of Criminology was launched by the Pakistan Society of Criminology, aiming to advance the study of criminology and criminal justice, and promote empirically-based public policy in crime management. A group of Asian scholars are also planning an Asian Handbook of Criminology to advance the understanding of criminology and criminal justice in Asia.

Recently, the Association of Chinese Criminology and Criminal Justice was established on 17 November 2010, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco. Today, it has more than 50 members from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, the U.S. and Britain. The Association is a non-profit, non-political organisation for scholarly and professional activities. It aims to promote criminology and criminal justice research, teaching, and learning on China-Taiwan related topics among academic communities in the U.S., greater China, and the rest of the world. Its mission is to promote research and studies in criminology and criminal justice on Chinese societies, and to mentor young scholars who are interested in comparative criminology and criminal justice.

In view of the recent development in criminology in Asia, this issue of the British Journal of Community Justice carries special meaning. The Editorial Board approached us to consider putting together a special issue of the journal, focusing on community and criminal justice in the region, and we were delighted to accept this brief. This engagement represents increasing dialogue between western academics and Hong Kong Higher Education through the development of research initiatives, joint teaching and exchange arrangements. The journal has always encouraged international contributions and this issue continues this trend, enabling a clear concentration on community justice in this region. This issue is tailor-made for a collection of criminological studies in selected Asian areas / nations, including Cambodia, China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

The contributors in this special issue address three important and interrelated topics. First is a review of the development of community justice approaches that are yet to be advanced in parallel with the changes of social-political conditions. Second is the examination of characteristics of community justice practices and its related laws embedded under diversity in culture, religion and politics. Third is the quest for a genuinely rehabilitative approach, which must be fair and transparent, and able to reintegrate offenders into the society.

The article 'Inside the Cambodian Correctional System' by Chenda Keo, Roderic Broadhurst, and Thierry Bouhours is an attempt to uncover Cambodia's correctional system from first hand reports of a substantial number of detainees, prisoners and prison officers. In addition, the authors made good use of three sweeps of the United Nations International Crime Victim Survey (UNICVS) to discuss Cambodian attitudes to crime and punishment. The article critically discusses operation, irregularities and life in prisons, with the aim to show that Cambodian prisons are more than just places of punishment and rehabilitation. Based on the empirical data collected from the interviews and prison visits, the article describes various systems and conditions in the prisons, such as the classification system, prison routine, food conditions, discipline and vocational training arrangements, and the potential for corrupted practices. The study, in general, finds that Cambodian prisons are filled by the poor, the powerless, the poorly-educated and those with few connections. Most detainees complained that they were treated as if they were 'less than human'. In conclusion, the authors point out the terrifying situation of the correctional system with the statement:

Cambodian prisons are the reflection of what can be observed in the larger Cambodian society, a society that is still struggling with issues of blatant inequalities, injustices, cronyism and corruption.

Two complementary articles make a comprehensive review of the development of restorative justice (RJ) and its related practices in the two cross-strait jurisdictions--mainland China and Taiwan. The article 'Restorative justice and practices in China' by Dennis Wong and Louis Mok provides an overview of how the criminal justice system operates for juvenile offenders and discusses the evolution of a range of restorative justice practices in China. The article offers a very interesting contribution to the literature on restorative justice and a window into the specific developments within China. The authors argue that the Chinese informal model of social control has its roots in both the Confucian philosophy and the traditional Chinese culture, which has similarities with the model of restorative justice. This restorative model of delinquency control is compatible with the mass line ideology, which welcomes involvement of indigenous community leaders in China. The article provides a detailed analysis of the role of RJ at different stages within the criminal justice process. It also offers some cautionary notes in the conclusion about the rapid expansion of RJ and the need for more formalised codes of practice, training for practitioners and the judiciary before RJ is formally fully incorporated into the mainstream criminal justice system.

While the 'RJ and practices in Mainland China' article focuses on how RJ can be used for controlling juvenile crimes, the subsequent RJ article introduces the legislative bases of RJ and the different types of restorative practices in Taiwan. Chung-chang Yao and Fen-huang Hsiao's article 'An Introduction to Restorative Justice Practices in Taiwan' examines the historical development of RJ and how the proponents endeavoured to advocate new laws and practices for the implementation of RJ. Interestingly, articles written in Chinese are not uncommon in criminological journals in Taiwan. However, articles on RJ written in English are rare and this seems to be the first of its kind. The article highlights three major RJ approaches in Taiwan; mediation, deferred prosecution, and a restorative justice pilot scheme. The authors point out that there is still much more work to be done, such as refining restorative justice intervention approaches and training more practitioners to be mediators. However, the authors are confident in predicting that, in the near future, restorative justice will be used for a wider context and incorporated into the mainstream criminal justice system. They conclude that restorative justice, though yet to be advanced, will soon become an important policy feature of the criminal justice system in Taiwan.

The article 'Community Involvement in Crime Prevention and Judicial Process: the Experience of Saudi Arabia' by Guoping Jiang draws on literature to discuss various definitions of community justice from both western and non-western perspectives. The article also describes detailed judicial practices in Saudi Arabia and discusses the links between informal social control strategies and Islamic laws. The author argues that community justice in the Middle East is deeply rooted in religion and social institutions governed by Islamic laws. The Islamic laws are not merely a set of religious principles but a set of political, legal, economic, and social doctrines that guide social norms of believers and the entire society. Based on a range of academic sources, he suggests that the Saudi Arabian community justice system is administering forms of community justice including restorative practices that may help offenders to reintegrate into society. The article seems to provide the view that the criminal justice system in Saudi Arabia is predicated on principles of community justice. Interestingly, the article does not address the critique on unjust legal systems from a liberal western perspective or respond to western/liberal human rights issues associated with due process. This may be a rather interesting research topic that academic writers would like to focus on when Saudi Arabian community justice is further discussed.

The article 'Juvenile Offenders in Singapore' reports on the profiles of juvenile crimes, legal bases of juvenile protection and rehabilitation, diversionary measures and sentencing options available for juveniles offenders in Singapore. It also discusses how Singapore views juvenile or young people and addresses questions about whether rehabilitative measures could offer a balanced way for tackling youth delinquency. Based on an integrated analysis of the laws related to juvenile protection and offending behaviour, the author provides an overview of how the juvenile justice system operates and discusses the emergence of new measures including restorative justice practices for tackling an upsurge of juvenile delinquency in Singapore. Nevertheless, the author does not think that Singapore is adopting either the western welfare model or the restorative justice model like the one in New Zealand. In contrast, Singapore is prone to adopt a deterrence model which places more emphasis on asking offenders to be held accountable for what they have done. The author ends the article by arguing for a balanced approach in preventing and controlling crimes.

Finally, the article by Kyungseok Choo, Kyung-shick Choi and Yong-eun Sung, 'The Police Crackdown in Red Light Districts in South Korea and the Crime Displacement Effect after the 2004 Act on the Punishment of Intermediating in the Sex Trade' offers detailed insights from analysis of a recent 'Act on the Punishment of Intermediating in the Sex Trade' about the displacement effects of the sex trade from red light districts to other locations in South Korea. As highlighted in the article, the law specifies that strict penalties, such as large fines and long prison sentences for both the owners of brothels and their patrons, should be administered. The enactment of the 2004 Act was initiated after shocking news of the deaths in a series of fire events of 24 sex workers confined in brothels within red light districts. With the support of a range of academic sources, official statistics and multiple regression analysis of some secondary data, the author finds that the sex trade in South Korea has been displaced from red light districts to more locations in response to the aggressive police crackdowns over years. The article presents theories and concepts of crime displacement, and discusses the implications of theory and policy for improving the understanding of current anti-prostitution policies and efforts to control prostitution in South Korea.

The articles in this issue represent a broad range of current thinking across the region, often bringing some of these ideas to a western audience for the very first time. They demonstrate the vibrancy and cultural diversity of the discussion about community and criminal justice responses to a range of key issues in crime control and crime prevention. The growth of interest and practices around concepts of community justice is impressively displayed in these articles. We hope it will motivate further discussion and debate about the nature of such responses to the problems faced in these cultural diverse countries across the Asian region.


Asian Criminological Society, retrieved on 20 February 2011 from: meeting.php

Asian Journal of Criminology, retrieved on 20 February 2011 from: criminology/journal/11417

Braithwaite, J. (2009) Personal Communication, 23 June 2009.

Liu, J. (2009) 'Asian Criminology--Challenges, Opportunities and Directions' in Asian Journal of Criminology, 4(1), 1-9.

Professor T. Wing LO and Dr. Dennis Sing-wing WONG, Guest Editors and BJCJ Editorial Advisory Board members, Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong
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Article Details
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Author:Lo, T. Wing; Wong, Dennis Sing-wing
Publication:British Journal of Community Justice
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Dec 22, 2010
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