Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


Danielle Smith


Due Process of Law;Human Rights;Liberia;Mob Justice;Paynesville Joe Bar;Rule of Law

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


Mob justice refers to acts of violence meted out against an individual or individuals alleged to have committed a crime. Studies suggest that the inability of states to ensure equity, fairness, and impartiality within judicial proceedings facilitate mob justice. This study aims to explore causes, effects, and amelioration of mob justice in Joe Bar Community, Paynesville, Liberia. Data were collected using a survey questionnaire, focus groups and interviews from 300 community residents and legal practitioners in the Joe Bar Community. The causes of mob justice in Liberia are multi-faceted. In addition to a weak judiciary, the country has a history of civil conflict and political instability, leading to widespread poverty, unemployment, and a lack of access to basic resources. Quantitative results of this study show that both men and women perceive that bribery of judicial officers is a common cause of mob justice. More than one-half (56% of respondents) reported fear among citizens as an effect of mob violence, with women in the 18-29 age group most likely to report fear among citizens as an effect of mob justice. In this study, the qualitative results obtained from focus group discussions and interviews show a high level of perceived corruption within the judicial system, which erodes trust in the system. The respondents expressed frustration with the slow and expensive legal process; they reported that this process also contributes to the rise of mob justice. Delay in court trials and lack of judiciary support are recurring themes in these discussions. Despite the challenges, there is a shared aspiration for change among the respondents, indicating a community desire to seek alternatives to mob justice and to embrace legal solutions. Focus group discussions highlight community members' grievances, particularly regarding the lack of support from law enforcement. The lack of trust in the judicial system is a pervasive issue. Respondents believe that lack of trust leads some community members to take matters into their own hands and engage in mob justice. Interviews with stakeholders, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and police officers, reveal their concerns about the public’s lack of trust in legal institutions; logistical challenges facing these institutions; and the need for adequate training of law enforcement officers to effectively address mob violence. Mob justice undermines the authority and legitimacy of formal legal institutions, erodes trust in the state's ability to maintain law and order, and weakens the overall social fabric. The research recommends that the government should prioritize the eradication of corruption within the judicial system. Efforts should be made to foster a stronger bond between citizens and security personnel, and to build confidence between citizens, law enforcement and the judiciary. Further, educating citizens about the due process of law and the consequences of mob justice, and incentivizing professionalism among public authorities are imperative. It is also essential to ensure that those involved in mob justice are swiftly brought to justice.


Open Access



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