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Protecting the Rights of the Child: Regulating Restorative Justice and Indigenous Practices in Southern Sudan and East Timor

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The Convention on the Rights of the Child has globalized child rights and child protection by setting international norms, which include a mandate to apply restorative justice practices in juvenile justice laws and procedures. In some states, restorative justice has long been a practice in communities and legislating to give effect to the CRC has involved codifying, modifying and regulating existing community restorative practices with the intention of incorporating adaptations of those practices under new laws. In Southern Sudan and East Timor, both of which have suffered extreme violence and conflict, lifestyles are predominately traditional and values and beliefs concerning family and children, remain rooted in custom. Both have drafted laws that attempt to incorporate traditional restorative practices and give effect to the norms of the Convention. Examining the provisions of each proposed law reveals how culture will be enacted and regulated for the benefit of children and the extent to which the international rights discourse embodied in these proposed laws is congruent with customary and traditional values and beliefs about children. A comparative examination of the two draft laws, contextualized according to local cultures, provides insights into policy choices about the incorporation of culture and the relationship between international norms of child protection and traditional restorative practices.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Northern Arizona University


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