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Beyond Democratic Tolerance: Witch Killings in Timor-Leste

[journal article]

Strating, Rebecca; Edmondson, Beth

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Abstract Newly democratising states experience challenges in reconciling 'traditional' or 'customary' dispute resolution practices with newly established state-based legal systems based on the rule of law. For Timor-Leste, these tensions are pronounced in continuing debates concerning the killing or injuring of women accused of witchcraft. Defences of extrajudicial punishments tend to conflate democracy with local support and fail to deal with the key institutions of democratic systems, including the rule of law, political equality, and civil rights. In Timor-Leste's case, where equality and social rights were incorporated into the Constitution as fundamental governmental obligations, localised extrajudicial punishments threaten internal and external state legitimacy and highlight the difficulties of ensuring the primacy of state-based institutions. Extrajudicial punishments challenge Timor-Leste's capacity to consolidate new liberal democratic political institutions. (author's abstract)
Keywords democratization; East-Timor; legal order; constitutional state; legal consciousness; political consciousness; violence; arbitrary law; penalty; value; traditional culture; traditional society; woman; witch hunt; human rights; Southeast Asia
Classification Criminal Sociology, Sociology of Law; Macrosociology, Analysis of Whole Societies; Political System, Constitution, Government
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 37-64
Journal Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 34 (2015) 3
ISSN 1868-1034
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications