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The Challenges Facing Non-State Justice Systems in Southern Africa: How do, and How Should Governments Respond?

Schärf, Wilfred
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Paper presented at the confernece “Criminal Justice Consolidating Transformation. A New Decade. 7-8 February 2005.

The structure of this paper starts, Firstly with an examination of the terminology used over the last 50 years when talking about non-state justice. I try to show that it is not all semantics but that the names take on particular ideological baggage, depending on whether the form of non-state justice is pro-state or anti-state. It also depends on who is talking, a person in a liberation struggle or someone opposing that liberation. This is to contextualize what we nowadays use quite loosely, terms such as restorative justice and traditional justice.

Secondly, I will explore the different forms that non-state justice takes in the six countries under scrutiny as well as examples from India, Bangladesh, the Phillipines and Latin America. The state’s responses to these phenomena will then be sketched followed by recommendations about how states, development-donors and citizens could contribute to better governance and more effective co-operation between different forms of non-states justice and the state.

Thirdly I will share some of the developments in the SA Law Commission project group on Community Dispute Resolution Structures (CDRS).


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