A GREEN STICK OR A FRESH STICK? LOCATING CUSTOMARY PENALTIES IN THE POST-COLONIAL ERA

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Abstract:

Former colonies and dependencies in the South Pacific do not have the luxury of entirely ‘homegrown’ laws. Their legal systems are burdened with a ‘legacy’ of transplanted laws, developed for use in a foreign country, imposed on pre-existing systems of custom and culture. As a result, many small island countries are struggling to balance the demands of law from different sources, designed to operate in fundamentally different circumstances. In addition to the conflict that occurs in areas of substantive law, where customary and introduced law may prescribe a different rule for the same situation, the two systems differ in their approach to procedure, penalties and relief. This paper considers the divide between the theory and practice of introduced law and customary law and examines the way in which conflicts have been dealt with by the courts. In particular, it uses the example of banishment to illustrate the type of problems that arise in a plural system. The paper looks at the balancing exercise which has been necessary when custom, in the form of banishment, comes into conflict with introduced law, in the form of constitutional rights.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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