Prospects for Accessing Justice for Sexual Violence in Liberia’s Hybrid System

Author: Freida M’Cormack

Abstract

This paper explores the prospects of complementary rather than competitive dispute resolution and justice systems in Liberia. It specifically considers women’s access to justice in relation to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), which remains prevalent in the post-conflict period, and in the context of a highly hybridised justice system. While the formal system has made great progress in reforming laws and institutions but is vastly under-resourced. Informal and traditional systems are widely considered more accessible and affordable. They are, however, also susceptible to corruption and co-option, and the state’s oversight and curtailing of specific conflict resolution and punishment practices is considered to have rendered these systems less effective. Significantly, some cultural and traditional practices are themselves considered to facilitate and promote SGBV. These factors make complementary systems an imperative while working to address the deficiencies of both systems.