n African Human Rights Law Journal - Justice for the people : strengthening primary justice in Malawi

Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



In Africa, primary justice, or the way people resolve disputes and access justice within their own social and cultural contexts, has, perhaps by default, been wrongly perceived as exclusively comprising 'customary justice', upheld and administered by traditional leaders. These perceptions are, however, changing with a growing realisation that people are questioning the roles of traditional leaders and developing their own community-based justice mechanisms. Primary justice involves a much broader set of stakeholders, including faith-based organisations and institutions, community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations. Extending the scope of primary justice and supporting capacity-building among primary justice organisations can enable communities to reclaim justice for themselves in ways that respect human rights, reach far more people than formal justice systems, and have the potential to be powerful and peaceful mobilising forces for social change.

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