Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or law.

This Article ties very closely into the last and runs into many of the same problems with implementing it. The more cynical version of the Golden Rule comes into play with these: he who has the gold, makes the rules, and interprets them and pays those that enforce them. Leaving aside, for the most part, my chastising of my beloved (honestly) America for one post we can look around the world to see how little this promise is realized.

Much of the less developed world, especially Sub Saharan Africa falls prey to kleptocracy, where warlords and others who have been able to insinuate themselves into places of power, often with Western help (I did say “for the most part”,) have bought and paid for the judicial systems of their homelands. Even when they are not the de jure arbiters of law, they are the de facto ones and always its beneficiaries. Too many people in the most impoverished countries in the world plead their cases in front of judges whose decisions have already been made thanks to a well placed bribe or quietly spoken threat.

In other parts of the world the courts are appointed by the religious or monarchic powers of their countries, given their posts explicitly to protect the interests of the powerful. The problem isn’t so much with the competent tribunals as the existence of rights to begin with.

For once (please make sure you are seated) I am going to give the West a thumbs up with this one. Oh we have our corrupt judges, but by and large the officers of the court respect the sanctity of the concept of the law and do their best to show that. The problem of finding competent representation still exists, but if you find it, the law should, for the most part, be applied relatively equally, if you get past the prejudices of a jury. That’s an advantage that we have.

It can be said, of course (yeah, safe to stand up again,) that a lot of the Rest’s lack of stable judicial institutions can be laid at our feet. During the Overt Colonial Era (my term) the powers that be did their level best to completely destroy the institutions of the occupied and replace them with their own, without actually introducing their “beneficiaries” to how those institutions work. Hypocrisy in the application of the law on the part of the colonial powers taught the conquered people all the wrong lessons for when the West pulled out.

I imagine it pretty clear to anyone who has been reading this blog that I don’t always agree with the law, but I do agree with the idea of the law. Law is what allows us to resolve disputes peacefully. Law, when applied fairly and evenly makes for an orderly and kinder society. In my opinion the law exists to protect the weak from the strong, not the other way around as it so often does. It can do none of these things, though, if there are not honest, knowledgeable people interpreting it.


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