Assault

In February 2008, I witnessed a mediation in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, conducted by Dorothy Nebo of the JPC office there. The other Grand Gedeh county monitor, Anthony Thomas, was also present.Dorothy came across the case during her routine monitoring at the Zwedru police station. A woman named Emily (clients’ names have been changed) approached Dorothy to explain her case. She had been physically fighting with her friend Binta; the police arrested them both and brought them to the station.
Binta, too, agreed to participate in a JPC mediation. Dorothy approached the officer handling the case, who agreed to turn it over to the JPC. But he stipulated that if they were not able to handle the dispute among themselves, they should not return to the station for criminal charges but instead pursue their case in the court as a civil matter. Both women agreed.
I was present when they appeared at the JPC at the appointed time. The two women told similar stories that differed only in minor respects. Emily had gone to Binta’s home and assaulted her, possibly due to an argument over a man. Binta claimed to have lost more than $100 in cash and several items of personal property, including her cell phone, during the scuffle. She also sought treatment at a clinic, which cost her US$25. She was most concerned with compensation.The mediation lasted several hours, and little progress was made. Emily accepted liability, but wasn’t in a position to produce the money. Eventually Dorothy ended the meeting and agreed to caucus individually with each party at their homes. I later learned that in the caucus, Binta admitted that she hadn’t had any cash on her, though she had lost the property (Dorothy confirmed this with neighbors and witnesses). Both parties reconvened at the JPC office, where Binta had dropped her insistence of full compensation and agreed to accept approximately US$40. The parties signed a mediation agreement in the presence of witnesses they had invited – Binta had brought a friend and Emily a family member – and on the appointed date, Emily paid the money.A few months later I followed up with Binta & Emily. Both had followed the mediation agreement and were happy with it. While they were no longer close friends, both said that they were able to co-exist peacefully and waved at each other when they found themselves together. Even though Dorothy was a cousin of Binta, Emily said that she thought the mediation unbiased.
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