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THE IMPACTS OF RIVALRY BETWEEN BORANA AND OROMO CUSTOMARY LAW AND THE ETHIOPIAN STATE LAW IN CRIMINAL MATTERS: LOOKING FOR A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE [Abstract ID: 0703-19]
The article aims at examining the nature of the relationship between the Borana indigenous justice system and the formal criminal justice system with a view to show the undesirable effects resulting from the rivalry between the two. Among the Borana Oromo of Ethiopia, the indigenous justice system is still operating along with the formal justice system. In the area of criminal law, as the two justice systems are equally capable of asserting their authorities, the Borana are deprived of their right to opt for the justice system of their own choice. The Borana have laws and procedures based on the Gada system administered by their indigenous institutions. Clan elders (hayyu) play a key role by making sure that customary laws are respected by all clan members. In criminal cases, regardless of whether sanctions have been already imposed on individual offenders locally (usually through the payment of Gumaa), the formal court imposes its own sanction. This means that the co-existence of the two systems has subjected the people to the jurisdictions and possible sanctions of both the systems: in case of a crime, both, formal and customary legal systems apply their own laws on the offender for the same offence. The victims of a crime may likewise be impacted differently under the two systems. The negative impact of this “double-judgement” has on an offender both in terms of process and outcome will be demonstrated by discussing concrete cases that were observed and documented during fieldwork among the Borana. As to how the systems can avoid the negative impacts of the rivalry and operate in harmony, the article recommends possible options.