One of the most important aspects of any modern nation is the ability to have a structured judicial system that is legitimate and fair. Judges and the system itself must be impartial. This is ,of course , symbolized in the U.S. justice system as the image of a blind woman holding the scale. Justice herself. In Sri Lanka, however, this does not seem to be the case.
The International Commission of Jurists, a worldwide group of lawyers and judges, has just issued a 150 page report entitled “Authority without Accountability: The Crisis of Impunity in Sri Lanka.” In that report, the group recounts how many perpetrators of human rights violations are not brought to justice-or even pursued- and that some have even physically attacked judges in order to coerce them into deciding one way. After one High Court judge spoke out on these pressures, he was pistol -whipped in an effort to keep him quiet.
Sri Lanka had been involved in a three decade civil war with the Tamil Tiger rebels that dominated certain parts of the country. According to the ICJ, the Sri Lankan government failed to submit any of the abuses these rebels committed, including large scale civilian casualties, to their courts for justice to be served. The government disputes these claims. The ICJ says this is a result of the overall lack of accountability in the nation, where some of the pressure on the judges comes from the government itself.
I will not say that every judge or lawyer in the United States is free from influences from outside factors, because that would be naive and uneducated. However, I will say that physical attacks on judges would never be something that could be hidden from the citizens. If you do not believe in your justice system then citizens would never try to report injuries or crimes. Most likely, they would try to take justice into their own hands which just descends into chaos.
Is a fair and impartial justice system the most important factor of a legitimate government?
What could be done in Sri Lanka to prevent these abuses?
Are international bodies such as the ICJ right to issue these reports on accountability or lack thereof?
Photo Source: Mark Millar UK