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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Failure of Popular Justice in Uganda: Local Councils and Women's Property Rights
Author:Khadiagala, Lynn S.
Periodical:Development and Change
Geographic term:Uganda
Subjects:popular justice
local councils
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Women's Issues
Politics and Government
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
External link:https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7660.00196
Abstract:Advocates of alternative dispute resolution argue that informal, community-based institutions are better placed to provide inexpensive, expedient and culturally appropriate forms of justice. In 1988, the government of Uganda extended judicial capacity to local councils (LCs) on similar grounds. At first glance, women should have been the greatest beneficiaries of the LC courts. Yet, the experiences of women in Kabale District (southwestern Uganda) indicate that popular justice has failed to provide a more accessible system of justice to the less powerful and to protect women's customary rights to land. This paper investigates the causes of this situation. It shows that the gap between theory and practice arises out of misconceptions of community. The tendency to ascribe a morality and autonomy to local spaces obscures the ability of elites to use informal institutions for purposes of social control. In the light of women's attempts to escape the 'rule of person' and to seek out arbiters whom they associate with the 'rule of law', it can be argued that the utility of the State to ordinary Ugandans should be reconsidered. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.