06 August 2011

Legal Pluralism and the Rule of Law in Timor Leste

LAURA GRENFELL Abstract - Many transitional countries face the problem of establishing the rule of law in a weak justice sector where a gulf separates local legal norms from national, constitutional norms that are drawnlargelyfromthe international sphere.As a case study of EastTimorthis article challenges simplistic positivist notions about the normative hierarchy of laws within a constitutionally bounded polity. It argues that in transitional countries such as East Timor legal pluralism is important but must be properly tuned to serve the rule of law. Legal pluralism poses certain dangerswhen it operateswithout any of the checks or balances that ensure accountability and the promotion of constitutional values such as equality. The rule of law is not served by an informal system where there are no formal avenues of appeal and thus minimal accountability and transparency. Amore promising version of legal pluralism that comports with the rule of law is one that empowers the state to monitor local decisions to ensure that they observe the
norms set out in East Timor’s Constitution. Read the full article on http://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/2440/35385/1/Grenfell_35385.pdf

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