When asked what contributed to their experience of injustice, parties to a crime or conflict often say that they felt disrespected. Respect is an attitude and can be communicated verbally, through body language and through willingness to listen. The essence of respecting is acknowledging the human dignity of the other party.
Respect is an important prerequisite to information sharing and communication that builds understanding. Parties to a crime or conflict who do not feel respected are less likely to listen to or empathize with the other party. This makes it difficult for any of the individuals involved to make their needs heard and understood. Disrespectful treatment by justice system actors also tends to make people less likely to cooperate or view the outcome of the justice process as fair.
Respecting someone means finding a balance between accountability and support. This balance can be difficult to strike in practice. Too much accountability can translate into angry, punitive, stigmatising, or coercive treatment on the part of a justice system actor or a party to conflict. Too much support can translate into sympathetic, interventionist, or protective treatment. No matter how well-intentioned, neither of these approaches acknowledges the human dignity and potential of the parties involved.