OpenTrial is a social-cause enterprise. Businesses have often profited from conflict and wars, and even caused them. However, OpenTrial derives its revenues from advancing justice and, therefore, peace and well-being. Financial sustainability is aimed at in order to ensure the continuance of our work.
Ours is an innovative, bottom-up, results-based, dynamic-creating approach that harnesses modern technology to: "reduce the scope for corruption, violence and human rights abuse within developing-world legal systems and, thereby, strengthen the rule of law in aid of national development and human dignity." Information provision, transparency and accountability change the law-society interface and dynamics, so that fair trials and equality before the law can become a reality by means of societal pressure. Our work is at the forefront in our field and is not for the faint-hearted, as justice systems are not the most flexible and tractable of systems.
Injustice blights the lives of billions, often crippling the lives of the poor generation after generation, so that even today one in nine people around the world go to bed hungry every night. 'Justice' systems tend to serve a minority. Here are some eye-opening statistics: 4 billion people live without the protection of the law; 4.2 to 11.6 million people are held in forced prostitution; 883 million people live on $1.25 per day; 100,000 girls in China are routinely trafficked for sex; 1 in 7 pubescent girls in the developing world are forced into marriage; 30 to 40% of women in many developing countries have been raped; 45.8 million people are held in slavery; 3 billion people live without secure rights to their land so that 5 million people are evicted yearly, with many more running off out of fear of violence; 59.5 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide; 50 to 97% of prisoners in the developing world are pre-trial detainees, many suffering abuse and torture (10,000 of them die each month); about 31 percent of all global homicides take place in Latin America - in 2012, homicide rates in war-torn countries like Iraq (8 per 100,000 inhabitants) and Afghanistan (6.5) paled in comparison to those in Brazil (25.8), Colombia (30.8), Mexico (21.5), El Salvador (41.2), Honduras (90.4), Guatemala (39.9) and Venezuela (53.7).
Dysfunctional legal systems amount to national immune systems that do not work. In some countries sham legal systems are commandeered to condone and confer legitimacy on criminality, rather than to combat it..
How does one identify a dysfunctional legal system? Look for impunity in instances of:
* the sexual abuse of children,
* the rape of women,
* the abuse and murder of those from ethnic minorities,
* corruption in government,
* environmental destruction for profit,
* illegal appropriation of land and other illicit dispossession,
* in-custody abuse, detention/control orders without trial and unfair/secret trials, etc.
Other indicators are:
* the rape and sexual exploitation of female suspects by police,
* the beating and jailing of lawyers who defend their clients too vigorously,
* the perversion of justice by corrupt judges and police,
* extortion by prosecutors that leaves families homeless and penniless,
* the torturing and shooting of suspects by police,
* the hijacking of legal systems to legitimise the use of political power to repress,
* the destruction of business, employment and livelihoods by corrupt police, prosecutors and judges,
* the jailing on trumped-up charges of innocents, many of whom are family breadwinners, by the criminal and corrupt.
The WJP Rule of Law Index 2014, indicates that there has been a significant decline in criminal justice worldwide: 20 countries showed a significant decline in their score, while none of the 99 countries in the Index demonstrated significant improvement. There has also been an overall decline shown in constraints on government, fundamental rights and civil justice.
The engagement of civil society with the law and public scrutiny of the justice sector are absolutely essential. Societal oversight of justice sectors, using modern technology, helps ensure fairness and equality before the law in aid of a country's development and the dignity of its citizens.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."