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Elechi, O. Oko (2004). Human Rights and the African Indigenous Justice System Paper for Presentation at the 18th International Conference of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, August 8 – 12, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Downloaded 2 February 2005.

Despite the dominant position of African states in social control, African indigenous institutions of social control remain relevant in the affairs of the people.This is especially so in the rural areas of Africa where the majority of the people reside. African peoples' disappointment with the colonial sponsored justice system, derive mostly from their perception of the system's concept and practice as alien, and prone to abuse and corruption, and antithetical to the African concept and practice of justice. African indigenous justice system employs restorative and transformative principles in conflict resolution. Victims, offenders and the entire community are involved and participate in the definition of harm and search for resolution acceptable to all stakeholders. Questions remain as to whether African indigenous institutions of conflict resolution are capable of respecting and protecting the rights of suspects and litigants. Underlying this thinking is the perception that pre-colonial Africa had no concept of human rights. As such human rights are only achievable through liberal regimes, since they are products of Western culture. Therefore, African post-colonial states modeled after Western states are in a better position to protect the rights of suspects and litigants. Further, social developmental theorists often draw a distinction between traditional and modern societies, where the former represents the "take-off" point and the latter the "landing" stages of the developmental continuum. This position overlooks the inherent differences in world-view, and the role of culture in the conception and administration of justice. Findings from this study indicate that the restoration of rights, dignity, interests and wellbeing of victims, offenders, and the entire community is the goal of African indigenous justice system... Again, the victims' needs for information, validation, social support, vindication, are the starting points of African justice. (author's abstract)


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