The rule of law is a term that has a pretty clear meaning by consensus, in a society we are all bound on equal terms by a common set of rules.
One of the most honourable and admired elements of the historical legal tradition is The principle of presumption of innocence , whereby a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, where the person is brought to a fair trial with procedural guarantees, one of the proudest ethical traditions. Since 1649 and the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act, citizens have been protected from false and arbitrary imprisonment and restriction of their personal liberty by the presumption of innocence until proof of their guilt is established by a jury of their peers in an independent court.
Believe it or not, even during the Nuremberg trails, where maybe the worst criminals in history, the Nazi war criminals, the chief prosecutor insisted that they were subjected to a fair trial, condemned if they were proven guilty, and furthermore he added if we ever do the things they are accused of, that we must suffer the same consequences otherwise the proceedings would be a complete farce. So presumption of innocence is a very deeply rooted principle.
But in today’s society its totally dismissed even with praise, as an example, and I’m in no way whatsoever condoning any sorts of terrorism, Osama bin laden the prime suspect for 9/11, where commandos invaded another country apprehended and murdered him and tossed his body in the ocean, without an autopsy, this was praised as a great achievement of the Obama administration, a couple of months later American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi an American citizen a cleric who was accused of not of committing crimes, but the main charge was he was a fluent speaker of English and offering support to terrorist operations was killed, and the general reaction was a celebration of the death of radical cleric. There were few outspoken critics who call for the presumption of innocence.
Basically, we have abandoned this principle, not just abandoned, but forcibly rejected it, to the extent of being charged with providing material assistance to a group who are on the terrorists list, the material assistance may be legal advice, not supplying arms or guns, but legal advice to the extent of advising an organisation not to use violent means, this is now criminal under US law. The terrorist list in the United States is accepted as a legitimate category, it is established, there is no justification for being on it, those on it cannot say they shouldn’t be on there, it’s a decision by the executive that if they don’t like you, they will and can prosecute you, no reason required! Even Nelson Mandela was on the list for until recently.
So the rule of law has drastically changed, whereas, that the presumption of innocence until proven guilty stands only as an ancient principle, and laws can be manipulated without reign by Governments who’s only answer when questioned by few, is the fact that these standards are the way forward to ensure against any internal or external threat to the freedom of their citizens.
The reason most of this is done is to show others that power is unchallengeable, power is not constrained by law, it’s a signal to would be challengers to that power, that there are no limits to what can be done , if you discover any illegalities at higher levels of that power and want to expose them, then the repercussions are there for all to be seen , it’s a strong shield for all occasions, terrorism can basically be whatever the powers that be, want it to be, to suit any situation of noncompliance or rebellion at any level. The Terrorism Act 2006 (UK) meant anybody suspected of terrorist related activities by the Home Secretary, but without any kind of trial, can be electronically tagged, monitored, be restricted from making phone calls, using the internet, be banned from certain kinds of work, can be restricted from going certain places, have one’s passport revoked and be under a duty to report to the police.
Whistleblowing is now a huge threat to the higher executive and is treated with full force, people who have leaked information of serious wrong doing have themselves been incarcerated, only to watch the very people who broke the law be shielded and move on upwards and onwards to more criminality. This has a clear message that if you expose anything criminal and wrong at a high level, you will be the one who is punished using the dressings of law to do it. It’s those in power using law as a weapon to entrench their power.
Lawlessness has become normalised, even an American president can act against anyone he wants with no constraints whatsoever, in total secrecy with no transparency or checks, to target anyone for violence or interrogation or incarceration without any oversight, it has become the norm, Its removed from political debate, it is no longer shocking or controversial, these policies of lawlessness have become embedded in our time.
People who rise to this level of power come to believe that the protection of that power is acting in the public interest. All efforts by those that see through the smoke and mirrors, and seek any kind of equal footing are identified as out of step with the common good and met with the establishments army of force and violence, from street level up, where free speech and any form of demonstration is quickly kettled in the name of law and order.
The mutations on the basic rules of our society do not grow overnight, they are edited slowly and without headline as a means of protection of a Governments self-empowerment, it has become the most hard practical politics to let go of control to others, to give up trying to dominate the scene, not only at high level, but these mutated laws are being trickled down to street level, the blatant disrespect for ones rights in any form of protest, more often than not, peaceful protest leads to innocents bearing nothing but a sense of righteousness and fair play, being beaten and locked up without any channels of complaint, therefore being guilty before being presumed innocent. The law and basic rules of society, which were once used to serve and protect every citizen, have become a weapon of choice to protect only those who manipulate it for their own preservation.
Although seemingly trivial compared to a huge pool of information on the Internet, the growing weapon of choice for the citizen is the use of the smartphone, here and in the U.S. people are recording acts of injustice with their smartphones, at the very least, exhibiting a smartphone or camera instantly commands a pause for reflection on official parties to think about how they undertake their role. The real time recordings can also be used as proof of injustice whenever it takes place, where many officials have been reprimanded for their corruption of the law, but more importantly public awareness, especially through social media is being increased especially within the younger generation. The most important aspect to this viral use of smartphones in such situations is the fact that it is awakening a previously dormant inquisitiveness into the law and ones rights.
Government’s only functions should be only to protect your rights, and that means to protect you from those who initiate force to remove those rights, but as the oppression increases and people are reduced to having little to lose, then the same laws will breed disrespect from the masses where rebellion inevitably follows.
Video: Demonstration observer at Barton Moss anti fracking being arrested by police. Has this guy broken the law?