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Customary Justice, Formal Justice or no Justice at all? The Liberian Case

Open Panel

Abstract

After an international intervention, different justice systems collide. Whereas the locals refer to their traditional methods of promoting justice, the international community strongly promotes formal mechanisms. Whereas the customary approaches clearly failed during war, the western approaches are often badly implemented and face scepticism from the local population. The proposed paper explores this field of tension in the case of Liberia, looking at the overall situation in the country since 2005 as well as probing deeper into the situation in a local community close to the Guinean boarder. Here, it becomes obvious how the concurring justice systems lead to confusion on the ground, a hybridisation of approaches, forum shopping and - finally - an overall decrease of justice - of what ever kind. Data combines a thorough literature review with focus group discussions and key informant interviews, as well as participatory observation of international and national (liberian) researchers.