One of the main ways through which we can protect people’s rights is through the use of law courts. In fact, the main reason as to why law courts exist is to protect the rights of the people. Of course, if you ask most of the court officials – including the judges and the researchers who help them – they will tell you that their main task is to ‘dispense justice’. And this is the mindset we need to change. We need to get the people who run the courts to understand that theirs is not an abstract role to ‘dispense justice’. On the contrary, their primary role is to protect people’s rights.
In more practical terms, some of the ways in which we can get the courts to serve as better tools for protecting people’s rights include:
- By recruiting people of unquestionable integrity to work in the courts: so the judges, prosecutors, clerks and judge research assistants need to be folks of unquestionable integrity. Everybody who works in the justice system has to be beyond reproach, like Caesar’s wife.
- By training the court officials on human rights consciousness: so the idea here is to get the people who dispense justice to be truly impartial.
- By giving the judicial arms real independence: having recruited people of great integrity, and trained them properly, we need to give them real operational and financial independence — and trust that they will do the right thing. We see all sorts of other organizations giving their staff operational independence. Even companies like PepsiCo, whose employee resources can be accessed through the Mypepsico portal, go to great lengths, to give their staff a measure of operational independence. You can get to see this if you work for PepsiCo, and you go to the mypepsico sign in page, log in, and proceed to the training modules – where you will notice the emphasis placed on operational independence. Now if these sorts of organizations are willing to grant their rank and file staff some measure of operational independence, surely, aren’t we supposed to be confident enough to give judicial staff real independence? Well, we just have to – for it will be very hard for judicial arms to protect people’s rights, if they don’t have real operational independence.