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    Tribal Rights - CASE STUDY

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    Tribal Rights - CASE STUDY

    Post by Admin on Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:04 pm

    Tribal Rights

    Papua New Guinea, an island nation in the Pacific, became an independent state twenty two years ago. It has only been a few decades since the tribes populating remote mountain regions of the island discovered they are not the only people on Earth. Village life in these areas still mostly follows ancient tribal traditions. Central to the tribal way of life, the compensation demanded when members of one clan kill the leader of another clan includes money, livestock, and a female clan member. Recently, for the first time in Papua New Guinea, a young woman, named Miriam Wilngal, refused to go along with the practice, fleeing instead to the home of relatives in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, more than three hundred miles from her village. Papua New Guinea has a legal system alongside of which the customary ancient tribal law coexists in an uncertain relationship. Ms. Wilngal went to court, represented by another woman, Ms. Susan Balen, who has broken with tradition to become a lawyer. Ms. Balen argued that the traditional tribal law can be challenged if it violates Papua New Guinea’s democratic constitution. A judge in a court forty miles from Ms. Wilngal’s village ruled in her favor. The elders of the aggrieved tribe are furious. They plan to take Ms. Wilngal’s clan to court, in effect using the modern legal system to demand their traditional tribal rights.

    You are the judge in this case. What is your decision? On what grounds?

    Notes:

    Fourth Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, APPE, 2/26/98

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    (c) Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE)

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