seeing justice done
Specially featured unfair legal processes on this site:
[N.B: OPENTRIAL IS NOT IN A POSITION TO ENDORSE OR VOUCH FOR THE INDIVIDUALS WHOSE CASES WE DETAIL; BUT WE DO UPHOLD THEIR RIGHT TO FAIR LEGAL PROCESS]
Unfair legal processes featured on other sites:
Justice sector public servants in the dock:
The right to a fair trial and equality before the law are absolutely paramount
They apply regardless of circumstances of birth, upbringing, education, friendship ties to whomsoever is in power, religion, ideology and point of view, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, disability, age, sexual orientation, wealth, status, criminality, state of mental health, etc. They should apply to all without exception.
Countering legal system corruption and violence in the cause of justice
No system is perfect; but the imperfections in legal systems can have serious consequences for individuals and society.
Unfortunately, many legal systems in the developing world are gravely flawed through being inappropriate grafts that are riddled with corruption and violence.
Individual cases of injustice are emotive and can be heartbreaking; but system change, albeit less immediately appealing, will save the most from violation and injustice.
The rule of law can only prevail and fair trials be conducted where judges, police, prosecutors, lawyers and the legal system itself are made accountable.
OpenTrial's rationale and mission
To OpenTrial, the rule of law is the bedrock of sustainable economic, social and political development. Human rights to the majority in the world are not even an aspiration, let alone a reality. Most legal systems in the developing world are dysfunctional through being riddled with violence and corruption. Conscientious lawyers may make a difference in individual cases of injustice; but their efforts are often a drop in the lawless ocean which some four billion people have the misfortune to inhabit.
OpenTrial works to change this - pragmatically, by taking into account existing dynamics and harnessing those that can bring about change for the better. Indeed, over the last decade things have changed. The rule of law is now recognised as essential for lifting peoples out of poverty and abuse. Big international players in rule-of-law building are acknowledging their failure. Many more countries are making the transition from tyranny to democracy. Legal system corruption and violence have been thoroughly investigated and reported on. Transparency leading to accountability and engagement by civil society is seen as a solution. The internet has become more interactive, more social, more engaging and more widespread. Power in the world is shifting and, with it, hegemonies are being dissolved while legal structures take their place.
It has to be remembered that in many developing countries judges, police and prosecutors are/were in thrall to tyrannical regimes. To them, integrity, independence, diligence, equality and impartiality are encumbrances, not quintessential qualities. Peer pressure, low salaries and political pressures are often conducive to corruption. The balance needs to be redressed and public scrutiny and civil pressure will do this. It changes the dynamics.
The information needed to empower
Thus, OpenTrial.info is timely. Our aim is for legal systems to be exposed to public scrutiny. Opacity must go, the mystique must be lifted. The internet is the ideal medium to profile judicial, police and prosecution systems in order to aid them to become more functional. Organisational structures, codes of conduct, budgets, expenditure, recruitment and staff policies, and independent reports can all be made public – and in detail. Judges, police chiefs and senior prosecutors can be profiled online too. Wealth audits, salaries, political links, conflicts of interest, training, career paths, etc. can be placed under public scrutiny. Later, entire case procedures can also go online, including videos of interrogations and hearings.
OpenTrial.info provides the tools to bring justice sectors to account – information that is accessible online. Civil society – the media, lawyers, NGOs, etc. - can then use this to push for justice and legal system reform.
Thus, OpenTrial.info helps combat legal system dysfunction by harnessing the power of the internet and its users to expose such systems to public scrutiny and to faciliate wider societal engagement.
"In the darkness of secrecy, sinister and evil in every shape shall have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity, there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial." Jeremy Bentham, English Philosopher