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Access to Justice-with the focus on indigenous law

Bjorklund, Asa (2003)
Department of Law
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to explore whether access to justice in Guatemala can be provided for the Mayan population by the use of their own justice system and what the consequences of its application would be. Prohibiting factors are economical, geographical, linguistic, cultural and institutional in nature. It is clearly the indigenous people that suffer most from the lack of the basic right to justice, which is why I have concentrated my investigation on this group. In my study of the topic, I have come to the conclusion that the barriers to access to justice can be overcome by the official recognition and application of the Mayan law and that the indigenous legal system provides a number of advantages that can improve the justice... (More)
The purpose of this thesis is to explore whether access to justice in Guatemala can be provided for the Mayan population by the use of their own justice system and what the consequences of its application would be. Prohibiting factors are economical, geographical, linguistic, cultural and institutional in nature. It is clearly the indigenous people that suffer most from the lack of the basic right to justice, which is why I have concentrated my investigation on this group. In my study of the topic, I have come to the conclusion that the barriers to access to justice can be overcome by the official recognition and application of the Mayan law and that the indigenous legal system provides a number of advantages that can improve the justice situation in Guatemala. In addition to improved access to justice, some further positive effects of indigenous justice include the following: community based sanctions which would ease the burden of the state penitentiary system, a decrease in the number of lynchings, crime prevention resulting from the educational aspect of Mayan law. Furthermore, regarding small claims Mayan law is a much more cost-effective solution. There are, however, some problems that challenge the use of indigenous justice. The fact that practically all Mayan authorities consist of men and that the opinion of the community often is taken into consideration in legal proceedings means that women may be at a disadvantage. Moreover, the Mayan law sometimes violates human rights, usually by administering corporal punishments. Among the most pressing challenges facing widespread use of the system are a need for the restoration of the traditional law, as it has suffered from the effects of the civil war, and a lack of cooperation and coordination between the different Maya organisations. Mechanisms for the coordination between the indigenous and the official justice systems have to be established in order to assure mutual respect and efficiency in the administration of justice. Finally, there is a need to inform the public, the police and the judicial authorities about the contents of Mayan law and its authorities. The problems and challenges mentioned above are not to be seen as reasons to dismiss indigenous justice as of no use, but rather areas that have to be dealt with and improved before the system can be fully implemented. By doing this, the indigenous law would pose a stronger alternative to the official judicial sector, which would amount to a well functioning justice system as well as increased possibilities for the citizens to obtain justice. (Less)
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author
Bjorklund, Asa
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1556269
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:19
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:19
@misc{1556269,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this thesis is to explore whether access to justice in Guatemala can be provided for the Mayan population by the use of their own justice system and what the consequences of its application would be. Prohibiting factors are economical, geographical, linguistic, cultural and institutional in nature. It is clearly the indigenous people that suffer most from the lack of the basic right to justice, which is why I have concentrated my investigation on this group. In my study of the topic, I have come to the conclusion that the barriers to access to justice can be overcome by the official recognition and application of the Mayan law and that the indigenous legal system provides a number of advantages that can improve the justice situation in Guatemala. In addition to improved access to justice, some further positive effects of indigenous justice include the following: community based sanctions which would ease the burden of the state penitentiary system, a decrease in the number of lynchings, crime prevention resulting from the educational aspect of Mayan law. Furthermore, regarding small claims Mayan law is a much more cost-effective solution. There are, however, some problems that challenge the use of indigenous justice. The fact that practically all Mayan authorities consist of men and that the opinion of the community often is taken into consideration in legal proceedings means that women may be at a disadvantage. Moreover, the Mayan law sometimes violates human rights, usually by administering corporal punishments. Among the most pressing challenges facing widespread use of the system are a need for the restoration of the traditional law, as it has suffered from the effects of the civil war, and a lack of cooperation and coordination between the different Maya organisations. Mechanisms for the coordination between the indigenous and the official justice systems have to be established in order to assure mutual respect and efficiency in the administration of justice. Finally, there is a need to inform the public, the police and the judicial authorities about the contents of Mayan law and its authorities. The problems and challenges mentioned above are not to be seen as reasons to dismiss indigenous justice as of no use, but rather areas that have to be dealt with and improved before the system can be fully implemented. By doing this, the indigenous law would pose a stronger alternative to the official judicial sector, which would amount to a well functioning justice system as well as increased possibilities for the citizens to obtain justice.},
  author       = {Bjorklund, Asa},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Access to Justice-with the focus on indigenous law},
  year         = {2003},
}