Foreign Policy Blogs

Why We All Innately Know What Justice Should Be

Demonstrators gather in front of City Hall to protest against the death of Freddie Gray. [REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz]

Baltimore has been the subject of a lack of justice this April 2015. In this case, this lack of justice is referring to the right that citizens should not be convicted and punished by means of torture, death or execution by a governing authority, and should not be summarily convicted by an officer without due process. The months of unjustified deaths of those who had interactions with the police in the United States hit a boiling point when a Baltimore man was found dead after being taken into police custody. Many are asking now, if there are no protective rights in that system or the perception of equal justice, how is a community to respond to the threat of possible death coming from a police service that claims a limitless unofficial license to kill suspects?

In a number of the recent cases of police brutality in the U.S., the offending officers were never put on trial. In some cases the police officer does go to trial, but justice for victims is still elusive. In Canada, a Toronto teen who was surrounded by police was shot eight times and subsequently tasered by police because he had a small knife. The actions by police were caught on camera, including the shooting of the teen, which lead to the largest anti-police protests in Toronto’s history. The Chief of Police of Toronto at the time, Bill Blair, after promising the community that this officer would be no harm to the community secretly placed him back working for the police as a first contact for the public to report crimes. He claimed it was the officer’s right under his collective agreement, but was it not the right of the community to have protection from this officer? Despite the officer being charged for the killing and the trial still in process, the officer is working in the community and the now-retired police chief will run for political office in 2015, thus legitimizing the lack of the core foundations of justice for the teen and his family in the system for the sake of Bill Blair’s political career.

Our core rights and equal justice should never lead to a reward for some and a lack of rights for others. While not every person is a lawyer or police officer and could not argue for pure equality in the application of justice in a court, there is the knowledge of fairness in communities and citizens will challenge politicians and police for their rights. Fighting for justice in Toronto was met with a trial of the police officer responsible after public protests, despite those who would try to discourage the process by feigning excuses for the officer under his collective agreement, or believing that they should now become an elected representative of their community when people forget how brutal their officers were to a local teenager. When we see Baltimore, we must always remember that an abuse of basic rights will always be met with protests. That discussion should always take place in the framework of justice for all citizens. No one has more natural rights than another; whether it is a police officer, a politician or a president, we all deserve fair and equal justice.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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