Of those who addressed the issue of general crimes, most respondents asserted that the formal justice system would be the most appropriate venue. In the event of rape and murder within the community, the families of victims are often unsatisfied with the judgement made by customary authorities and tend to bring the cases to state justice. One interviewee cited the example of a little girl who was raped and killed by a local man. The customary justice intervention did not satisfy the victim’s family, which then brought the case to the gendarmerie. One customary leader also explicitly stated that he would not take murder cases; another directly stated that he would not take rape cases; and a third asserted that he would not take on either type of case.
On the other hand, there are accounts of rape and murder that were successfully resolved by customary justice leaders. For example, two violent crimes in Niafunké, including one murder, were solved through confessions and the sacrifice of animals. There was also a rape case in another locality where both the husband of the victim and a party related to the assailant were satisfied with the resolution.
Notably, however, the respondents in Gao were more equally divided on this question: eight of 22 people asserted that customary justice mechanisms are able to handle criminal cases, and that the interference of formal justice means that customary leaders are being ignored. This argument is based on the belief of the power of these authorities to restore social cohesion.