1st Edition

Taking the Law into their Own Hands
Lawless Law Enforcers in Africa

ISBN 9781138277809
Published November 9, 2016 by Routledge
256 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

Over much of Africa, crime and insurgency are a serious problem and one in which the distinction between the two is being eroded.  Left without state protection people have sought to preserve their lives and property through vigilante groups and militias that pay scant attention to the law or human rights.  Likewise, the state security forces, under pressure to cut crime and rebel activity, readily discard lawful procedures.  Torture provides them with vital information, whilst extra-judicial executions save the need to go through the prolonged criminal justice system. After a general overview of the role of the rule of law in a democratic society, Bruce Baker provides five case studies that capture the current complex realities and their impact on the new democracies.  The citizen responses considered are vigilantes in East African pastoral economies, The Bakassi Boys an anti-crime group in Nigeria and private policing initiatives in South Africa.  The state responses are those of the Ugandan Defence Forces towards the Lords Resistance Army, the Senegalese army towards the Casamance secessionists and the Mozambique Police response towards criminals.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Lawlessness and Democracy in Africa: The importance of the rule of law in democracy; The construction of attitudes towards the law. The Army Takes the Law into its Own Hands: The Ugandan peoples defence force and the Northern rebellion; The Senegalese army and the Casamance secessionists. The Police and State Militia Take the Law into Their Own Hands: The Mozambican national police and crime; Anambra state vigilante service (Nigeria) and crime. The People Take the Law into Their Own Hands: Vigilantes and crime in South Africa; East Africa’s vigilantes and cattle rustling. The Implications for Democracy: Sustaining democracy in a context of lawless law enforcement; Bibliography; Index.

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Bruce Baker, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of International Studies and Law, Coventry University, UK


’This book focuses on a vital and under-researched aspect of politics. It explores the relationship between law and order and the maintenance of democratic structures in an informed and lively manner, raising crucial and important questions over the consolidation of democracy.’ Professor Roy May, Coventry University, UK ’Bruce Baker has provided an original and superbly detailed analysis of the alarming collapse of the rule of law in much of Africa - a collapse which threatens to undermine the essential fabric of democracy on that continent, and to collapse the essential link between citizens' rights and obligations. This book will demand the attention of social scientists and human rights activists alike.’ Professor Roger Southall, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa