Saturday, 25th February 2017

Message from the founder

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"Effective rule of law helps reduce corruption, alleviate poverty, improve public health and education, and protect people from injustices and dangers large and small. Wherever we come from, the rule of law can always be strengthened.” - William H. Neukom, WJP President & CEO.

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. ........... To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all..." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986.

“[F]our billion people around the world are robbed of the chance to better their lives and climb out of poverty, because they are excluded from the rule of law.” the United Nations’ Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

 

Message from the founder:

 


Apart from resort-holidays, packaged so we can enjoy ourselves sequestered from the maladies of a Third World society, it is generally only horrific tragedies that arouse, in inhabitants of rich nations, interest in the developing world: the collapse of a building that claims over a thousand lives, a massive death toll from the sinking of an overloaded ferry, the heinous rape of women with impunity, the mass slaughters perpetrated by drug cartels, the violence which displaces minorities en masse, the gunning down of striking miners by police, the boiling of prisoners alive in cauldrons, etc., etc. Yet this constitutes only the tiny exposed tip of a truly vast iceberg.

 

Humans, because they are self-aware, are prone to narcissism, self-gratification and self-grandiosity. It is this that is at the root of our wars, mass slaughters and the despoliation of our planet. Insatiable needs mean the world's finite resources are fought over and then plundered by the powerful. Increasingly, this leaves swathes of the planet barely habitable for the powerless and, ultimately, could make this world uninhabitable for our species as a whole. Justice and equality before the law, through leveling the playing field, is the antidote that has the potential to save us from ourselves.

 

Unfortunately, the deprived billions, of which the majority of people in the world consist, mostly live with lawlessness and injustice ever present. Their powerlessness to stand up against abuse and exploitation is ultimately effacing and often utterly debilitating. For them things can become so dire they are compelled do that which we, in the comfortable rich world, regard as unthinkable, such as selling a young daughter to become the bride of an elderly man or to unwittingly end up as a sex slave.

 

Equality before the law and fair legal process would change these people's lives dramatically. They would be able to make a stand against abuse and exploitation, demand their human rights and bring the malfeasant to account. Yet the legal systems that hold sway over them are often utterly dysfunctional and for good reason; they frequently derive from culturally inappropriate foreign grafts that were designed to oppress the colonised and, in turn, were usurped by post-colonial dictators. The laws are, therefore, often disseminated in the foreign language of the former colonists, a language which may not be understood by the indigenous people. Further, police, judges and prosecutors, who were in thrall to the post-colonial autocracy, may have no concept of serving the people, let alone justice. Thus, corruption and violence may be not only pervasive and endemic, but also deeply entrenched in justice sectors that are, by their nature, very conservative and highly resistant to change.

 

Into such milieus strut the rule-of-law consultants of the West, offering solutions which may work in the rich world; but, unfortunately, even there, increasingly permit the erosion of the rule of law. Judges are trained, new courts built and equipped, bar associations set up, special police units funded and established, etc., with little understanding or regard for the environment these are being plugged into. It is just as futile as trying to grow an orchid outside in the arctic; despite throwing enormous amounts of money at it, it simply will not work. Furthermore, the failure is largely acknowledged, yet the money and consultants somehow keep on coming.

 

The answer is to do precisely that which was taboo under colonialism and tyrannical post-colonial regimes, namely: provide information that furthers transparency with regard to how police, prosecutors and the judiciary function; make justice sector officials accountable; strengthen civil society and engage it with the law; and nurture and encourage outspokenness and action against injustice. Computers, the internet, digital social networking and broadband make this possible like never before. If technological advances can be used to send men to the moon and harness nuclear fission, then they can also be used to relieve human suffering in the cause of human dignity and justice. 

 

The tools we already have; all we now need is broad acceptance of the vision, openness to change and exercise of the will. Contact us now to help turn vision into reality.

 

Frank Richardson

OpenTrial™

 

""The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein"

 

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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."

 

 

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