Ethics of Traditional Leaders and and What That Means for Traditional Justice
December 4, 2012
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As part of my additional research for the response papers, I came upon this article by Erin Baines: http://ijtj.oxfordjournals.org/content/1/1/91.full.pdf.
She really expounds upon the conception of traditional justice we covered in class by providing a real-life example of a former child soldier, Alice, dealing with the plight of the crimes she was forced to commit by the LRA. It is interesting because the readings for class discuss how the local chiefs aim to create a community environment where former LRA can come forward to be reconciled, yet Baines explicates that there is in fact a lot of corruption among the local chiefs. In fact, they have lost a lot of the resources that would enable them to perform rituals, thus they charge fees from former child soldiers, fees most of them cannot afford. Additionally, while the Iliff and Huyse readings espouse the necessity for mato oput in the reconciliation process, the Ugandan chiefs Baines depicts are hesitant to perform mato oput for Alice and the group. Furthermore, they do not perform it as a ritual of accountability. They refuse to perform the one ritual which has been declared “essential” in the reconciliation process. In fact, Ugandan citizens are trying to convince the ICC to defer the LRA commander cases back to national, traditional processes because of the “effectiveness” and “necessity” of this diplomatic ritual. It seems like individual faith in the intangible rituals exceeds their capacity to deliver reconciliatory relief and establish accountability. This point refocuses the argument for traditional justice on the legitimacy of the tradition and the extent to which it constitutes globally conceived justice. International criminal justice principles should be always be universally applied; that is why they exist. Unless local justice can demonstrate an ability to provide for reconciliation, truth telling, reparation and accountability, it should not be used on its own. However, it is undeniable that rituals are important to African society, therefore, a hybrid system incorporating ritual and legalistic globally conceived justice norms is essential.