On Law, Order and the Dispensation of Justice [Archives:1999/40/Focus]

October 4 1999

Common Sense
By: Hassan Al-Haifi
“We have sent our messengers with the facts, and sent down the Book and the scale with them, in order that people will stand by justice.” (The Holy Quran 57:29)
“and if you were to judge between people, then it is by justice, that you should only judge/rule”(The Holy Quran 4:58)
Over the ages, mankind has toiled with the effort of organizing social order, in order that masses of people may live together coherently, with the rights of all safeguarded, and relations among people will be fairly established. Even absolute monarchs sought to have laws and ordinances set the guidelines by which their domains are governed and their subjects are controlled. God, Al-Mighty was well involved in this effort revealing to mankind, over time, the appropriate course for the achievement of a social contract, where the weak and the strong become equal and the rich and the poor are indiscriminate when viewed in the context of the laws He insists should be a part of the social order of the universe. In fact, the Lord Al-Mighty has “prohibited injustice upon Himself”, and aptly gave himself the name of “Justice” to confirm that it is only with justice that man must live and it is only with justice that mankind shall be ruled and judged accordingly.
It never ceases to puzzle this observer how Islamic legislative guidelines and conceptualizations of social orders are the most advanced spiritual guidelines for a proper social order, yet Moslem societies are the last to set their communal lives in keeping with such Heavenly Wisdom. In fact, Moslems have so much been bogged down by ritualistic aspects of their religion that they have forgotten that such ritualistic elements are mainly symbolic regulatory elements, with the core of religious beliefs really being manifest in the social order ordained in the Koran, the traditions of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace of Allah be upon him) and the actual life he and his early disciples followed through.
We, in Yemen, have a long tradition of seeking to adhere to the important social dictates of this phenomenal social order which Islam brought to this world, and have painstakingly tried to avoid any corruption that seek to obliterate this deep inherent insistence that our ways of life should never deviate from the order that God Al-Mighty wants us to conform to for our own sake. But what has happened to us over the past few decades has been, to say the least, unforgivable in terms of coming up with the appropriate institutional framework that will give the people of the country a sense of comfort in realizing that their rights are duly safeguarded by the legal framework and institutional make-up of our social fabric. Regrettably, it is the forces of injustice and oppression which have been allowed to hold sway over all our interactions as a society, and Government, rather than being the guardian and executioner of justice has, become in fact the mechanism by which oppression and injustice are meted out, leaving those who stand for the proper convening of due process of law and those who look towards the Government for ensuring God’s will of freedom and equality for all in the eyes of the law, as the very victims of Government impotency and disregard for its true obligations in the social contract that it is expected to abide by and enforce accordingly.
In looking at the legislative framework that our Government is seeking to regulate this society by, one cannot feel the inherent insistence in all such legislation of giving Government more powers than it is actually entitled to in the proper social contract that needs to be established to regulate the relationship between the government and the governed. Moreover, it is clear from the legislation that so far exist that there is an obvious paradox between what Government says it is doing and wants to do than what these legislation state and how they are implemented. Moreover, there is also a clear divisible line between our declared adherence to modern democratic principles, which have their roots in Islam, and the actual execution of due process and imposition of justice which totally stand in contrast to such principles and God’s will. It is difficult for the observer to find the source of the blame for such social incongruities, but for sure there is much, in Government and in the due process of law and order, that is to be desired, with Government surely failing in many cases to provide the general population the feeling of comfort and security that, in the end, the law will take its proper course and justice and the rights of the oppressed will prevail. On the contrary, Government and the social order that has prevailed has acted to make a mockery of serious due process of law, and has turned the dispensation of justice subject to the whimsical and narrow-minded attitude of generally incompetent responsible officials, who seek to abide by the ambitions and the self-centered interests of those who have turned Government into a free-for-all, for those who believe in the rule of muscle and money rather than law and order and the treatment of all equally under the law.
In two cases that are known to this observer, one cannot fail to see that surely our legal framework has lost its senses in dealing with rather simple cases that involve the clear safeguarding of rights and the true imposition of justice as ordained by God and as declared by our new adherence to a modern democratic framework.
The first case is the one that is well known to the Yemen Times readers and, in fact, where one who has all along cried out for proper due process of law and dispensation of justice has actually become the victim, intestate, of the very form of due process that his heirs and the public are rightfully not entitled to, notwithstanding the obvious desire of the Government to get the case over with as quick as possible without raising too much hoop-la over the matter. We are here speaking of the “traffic accident” which the late Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was the fatal victim of and by which his heirs and the public at large have lost an important spokesman for their rights and entitlements under a true democratic society, with the laws that will never veer from the insistence that human rights and dignity are the core and substance of any legal framework and regulatory order. Yet, the Court reviewing the case has failed to understand its true duty to the public and its obligations towards the scale it holds in its hands, that was sent down by the Lord, Al-Mighty as a trust that should never be betrayed, notwithstanding whatever whimsical and self centered interests prevail in the incongruent social order that we have become subject to. It is the Courts, in the end that should make sure that such an order never be allowed to prevail and it is the Courts that can and should make sure that such an order never be allowed to exist!
The other case involves a simple citizen, without any criminal record or any sound basis for being accused as a major suspect in a major bank robbery case that occurred in this country over a year ago. For all intents and purposes, it is clear to the Courts and the Prosecution that the suspect is in fact innocent and could surely not have partaken in such a criminal act. It is also clear that what the suspect has been subjected to by the very executioners of due process of law, and the hardships that his family has had to undergo, clearly show that our Government is not the protector of human rights it claims to be. The innocent subject still remains in the Central Prison of Sana’a (for over a year now), without any clear indication that he will be allowed to get his due right of a quick and decisive ruling that will clear him from such a bad smear that was based on pure hearsay and personal attitude of his accusers, whereas those who know this person, cannot find any justification for such continued injustice to go on.
It is not fair that all those who can do something by deed, action or word can watch this kind of a mockery to justice, without having to at lelet the public be aware that hay, there is something wrong with our social fabric. It goes without saying, there are far more cases of such injustice outstanding in the Courts and the penal system that, as much as these two cases, warrant the immediate attention of the responsible officials in the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the sleeping Parliament and the President of the Republic, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to whom I propose that he decrees an immediate and just finalization of all the pending cases in the quagmire of the legal/judicial jungle that has firmly become a part and parcel of our decaying social order, as his first task after having received the mandate for another term in office from the people who look to him as a final arbiter with the Government.