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Criminal Justice


Evaristus O. Obinyan


After the end of Liberia’s brutal 14 year civil war, the process of rebuilding Liberia has focused on a number of interventions including reforming the criminal justice system. In the current study, institutional, policy, legal reform, and infrastructure development were the approaches used to decentralize Liberia’s Criminal Justice System. Thirty experts were interviewed, and their responses coded using NVivo 12.0. Seven themes and 25 subthemes emerged from the data. It was that found that a top down internationally led approach with minimal involvement of local communities and the neglect of the traditional justice system characterized the decentralization process. Results also indicated that as a result of decentralizing Liberia’s Criminal Justice System, the system is showing basic signs of functionality, a situation which has contributed to Liberia’s peace and stability. Participants recommended an inclusive, nationally led approach that blends the formal and traditional justice systems, an overhaul of the criminal justice system and changes in the attitudes and approaches of actors involved in decentralizing Liberia criminal justice system. Implications for positive social change include international actors treating the traditional justice systems and actors as important stakeholders in criminal justice system reform in postconflict peacebuilding and donors as well as international partners striking a health balance between their quest to realize their national interest aspirations vis-à-vis those of postconflict societies.