Effectiveness of the traditional justice systems in delivering justice to women victims of sexual and gender based violence among ethnic Kunama refugees in Ethiopia
During a crisis, such as armed conflict or natural disaster, institutions and systems for physical and social protection may be weakened or destroyed. police, legal, health, education, and social services are often disrupted; many people flee, and those who remain may not have the capacity or the equipment to work. Families and communities are often separated, which results in a further breakdown of community support systems and protection mechanisms according to lASe (200'5). A justice system is considered effective when the structure and procedures correspond with international standards of justice and human rights provisions to guarantee that victims are not further humiliated or denied justice. This study examined the effectiveness of traditional systems in delivering justice especially to women victims of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). The focus of the study was the Kunama ethnic group as it is the only refugee community in Ethiopia with a recognized and functional traditional justice system. The study subjects were the ethnic Kunama women victims of sexual and gender based violence that sought determination of SGBV incidents from the traditional justice system, those who sought other services from implementing partners in the camp but had not sought judicial redress and those who had suffered violence but took no action. Refugee social workers, police officers from Shimelba and Shiraro police stations were also part of the study in order to give insights on the female victim's perception of the traditional justice system. A total of 222 respondents were involved in this study. The study revealed that though the traditional justice system is a reliable and readily available means of addressing SGBV incidents among the Kunama, the system is not an adequate means of ensuring that women victims of SGBV receive justice. The composition of an adhoc male only traditional justice panel pre-supposes the likelihood of the female victim of SGBV being disadvantaged in the hearings. Additionally, traditional justice proceedings do not guarantee confidentiality to assure women of justice being served. This is a key factor preventing would-be reports of SGBV by the women to the traditional justice councils.