Advanced search

Sharia courts as dispute resolution mechanism in Ethiopia

Mohammed Abdo (UGent)
Author
Organization
Project
The Ethiopian Arbitration and Conciliation center
Abstract
Courts of law play an important role in actualizing the need for justice. A host of problems and challenges to meet justice means that no single state institution or process can shoulder the quest for justice alone, both substantive and procedural, and safeguard rights, privileges, entitlements, and expectation of both the individuals and the public. Litigation is only one of the options amongst the available routes for seeking justice. Thus, the search for justice and ways to resolve disputes outside the formal justice system is a universal phenomenon (ICHRP, 2009: 43). This is especially more evident in multicultural societies where there are different sources of norms. Settlement of disputes can be realized through alternative dispute resolution schemes or mechanisms based on customary or religious systems. Many studies suggest that non-formal systems handle a very large share of cases, especially in developing countries (ICHRP, 2009: 43). This is ascribed, among others, to the fact that they have an inherent nature that appeal to the would-be parties that rely on them (cultural and physical proximity, expediency, and procedures that suit the need of the users, making them closer to the users than the formal state institutions). The state needs to adopt policies to reckon with such system. The state’s approach to non- state dispute settlement means varies and ranges from a degree of tolerance to suppression. In Ethiopia, sharia courts have been in operation for long, although their de jure recognition materialized in early 1940s, which was cast into doubt in 1960s and revived in 1990s. In this chapter, attempt will be made to discuss about sharia courts and their role in the settlement of disputes involving the concern of Muslims. Background information on Islam and sharia courts is offered before delving into details regarding the jurisdiction, administration and interaction of sharia courts with formal state justice system. Finally, the practice of some sharia courts ( that of the Federal, Afar and Oromiya) and challenges facing them are reviewed. Discussion in this chapter is based on the relevant literature and interview with some personnel of sharia courts, especially judges thereto. The interview is used for the purpose of highlighting the practice of sharia courts in the settlement of disputes and to identify challenges they encounter. It is suggested that Sharia Courts play an important role in addressing the concern of Muslims to have family and personal issues controlled and resolved by Islamic law, and in relieving the burden of regular courts.
Keywords
and relationship between formal ad none formal systems, dispute resolution, Sharia courts

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Abdo, Mohammed. 2012. “Sharia Courts as Dispute Resolution Mechanism in Ethiopia.” In Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia, ed. Assefa Fiseha, Gebre Yentiso, and Fekade Azeze, 2:261–290. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Eclipse.
APA
Abdo, M. (2012). Sharia courts as dispute resolution mechanism in Ethiopia. In A. Fiseha, G. Yentiso, & F. Azeze (Eds.), Customary dispute resolution mechanisms in Ethiopia (Vol. 2, pp. 261–290). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Eclipse.
Vancouver
1.
Abdo M. Sharia courts as dispute resolution mechanism in Ethiopia. In: Fiseha A, Yentiso G, Azeze F, editors. Customary dispute resolution mechanisms in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Eclipse; 2012. p. 261–90.
MLA
Abdo, Mohammed. “Sharia Courts as Dispute Resolution Mechanism in Ethiopia.” Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia. Ed. Assefa Fiseha, Gebre Yentiso, & Fekade Azeze. Vol. 2. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Eclipse, 2012. 261–290. Print.
@incollection{3160156,
  abstract     = {Courts of law play an important role in actualizing the need for justice. A host of problems and challenges to meet justice means that no single state institution or process can shoulder the quest for justice alone, both substantive and procedural, and safeguard rights, privileges, entitlements, and expectation of both the individuals and the public. Litigation is only one of the options amongst the available routes for seeking justice. Thus, the search for justice and ways to resolve disputes outside the formal justice system is a universal phenomenon (ICHRP, 2009: 43). This is especially more evident in multicultural societies where there are different sources of norms. Settlement of disputes can be realized through alternative dispute resolution schemes or mechanisms based on customary or religious systems. Many studies suggest that non-formal systems handle a very large share of cases, especially in developing countries (ICHRP, 2009: 43). This is ascribed, among others, to the fact that they have an inherent nature that appeal to the would-be parties that rely on them (cultural and physical proximity, expediency, and procedures that suit the need of the users, making them closer to the users than the formal state institutions). The state needs to adopt policies to reckon with such system. The state{\textquoteright}s approach to non- state dispute settlement means varies and ranges from a degree of tolerance to suppression. In Ethiopia, sharia courts have been in operation for long, although their de jure recognition materialized in early 1940s, which was cast into doubt in 1960s and revived in 1990s. In this chapter, attempt will be made to discuss about sharia courts and their role in the settlement of disputes involving the concern of Muslims. Background information on Islam and sharia courts is offered before delving into details regarding the jurisdiction, administration and interaction of sharia courts with formal state justice system. Finally, the practice of some sharia courts ( that of the Federal, Afar and Oromiya) and challenges facing them are reviewed. Discussion in this chapter is based on the relevant literature and interview with some personnel of sharia courts, especially judges thereto. The interview is used for the purpose of highlighting the practice of sharia courts in the settlement of disputes and to identify challenges they encounter. It is suggested that Sharia Courts play an important role in addressing the concern of Muslims to have family and personal issues controlled and resolved by Islamic law, and in relieving the burden of regular courts.},
  author       = {Abdo, Mohammed},
  booktitle    = {Customary dispute resolution mechanisms in Ethiopia},
  editor       = {Fiseha, Assefa and Yentiso, Gebre and  Azeze, Fekade},
  isbn         = {9789994498895},
  keyword      = {and relationship between formal ad none formal systems,dispute resolution,Sharia courts},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {261--290},
  publisher    = {Eclipse},
  series       = {Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanism},
  title        = {Sharia courts as dispute resolution mechanism in Ethiopia},
  volume       = {2},
  year         = {2012},
}