A Mockery of the Rule of Law
A Mockery of the Rule of Law assenna.com Commentary 29 June 2017 Isn’t it ironic why the government of Eritrea has been publishing articles on justice matters on Haddas Eritra for the last 4-5 months as if it
A Mockery of the Rule of Law
29 June 2017
Isn’t it ironic why the government of Eritrea has been publishing articles on justice matters on Haddas Eritra for the last 4-5 months as if it is a strong advocate of the rule of law? The civic education is being published every Friday under the title of “Law for Peace and Development” prepared by Ms Fozia Hashem, the Minister of Justice.
The articles mention the rule of law extensively – it goes as far as how it ensures human liberty. Why is the government doing this when the citizens are being denied their basic rights and fair dealings in the court of law? The rule of law does not allow autocratic rule by the government. The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by unpredictable decisions of individual government officials. In what way does this civic education relate to the people of Eritrea?
Societies have long had an interest in the ways in which their young are prepared for citizenship and in how they learn to take part in civic life. Does Eritrea belong to that group of societies? Why feign the rule of law exists in Eritrea when we all know it is rule of Isaias Afwerki that is prevalent throughout the land? We know the fake civic education is intended to show the world that Eritrea is on the right side of the law.
Generally, the rule of law helps citizen and non-citizen to enjoy their rights as it is claimed in the constitution. Eritrea does not have a constitution. The president, single-handedly, never implemented the constitution that was ratified in 1997. To make matters worse, he then went ahead to reject it all together in 2014 by claiming that Eritrea deserves a more appropriate set of laws, perhaps one that favours his autocratic rule. Good riddance, since its total abolition via the simple interview he gave to the local media, nothing has been done to re-write it.
The on-going civic education ventures to address, rather long-windedly, the ‘currently prevalent’ Criminal and the Civil Law of the country – elements of the crime, burden and standard of proof, prisoners’ rights and so forth. It even discusses ‘offences against the interests of the state’. For instance, it states that anyone ‘guilty of treason, a Class 4 serious offence, punishable with a definite term of imprisonment of not less than 13 years and not more than 16 years’. Really? What happened to Eritrea’s prisoners of conscience who were accused under the pretext of ‘treason’? What happened to conscientious objectors, journalists, faith leaders, ‘rogue’ ex-combatants and many more who have simply disappeared?
Under normal circumstances, civic education is designed to empower us to be well-informed, remain active citizens and gives us the opportunity to change the world around us. It is a vital part of governance, and equips ordinary people with knowledge about our ‘democracy’ and our ‘constitution’ which we have not attained yet. In our case, however, the civic education makes a mockery of the government’s perception of the rule of law.