Once upon a time, not long ago in our history, life was “nasty and brutish” and for some “short” as well. Law was there, but it more rule by men and rule by law than rule of law.
Then we changed it, after much agitation and actuated by the desire to live under law, subject to the rule of law. We had too much hope, a belief that our future will be far better than our past. It was a people’s revolution, by the people and with the people.
The new governor, at a rally in the URR, one of his first, declared that in the new dispensation no one, even himself, would be above the law and that human rights and it’s respect and protection will be the cornerstone of his governance and government. The atmosphere was electric, expectations higher. “Eureka”, a friend told me….
While I will never hanker after the past, for neither halcyon or fleshy was it, i am not sure if the day after tomorrow would be better than today.
I take pleasure in the law and its guardians and the belief that he will not allow ourselves to slide back to the past. We have been to the past, we know how and what it was, we refuse to repeat. May be we remind our chief governor his promise to subject himself and all to the rule of law. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
“No man is above the law and no man is below it; not do we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not as a favour”
In one of his lectures (Lecture 1: Law’s Expanding Empire) delivered as part of the Reith Lectures 2019, Jonathan Sumption summed up the essence of the ruleof law in three points:
“First public authorities have no powers to coerce us, except what the law gives tjem. Secondly, people must have the minimum of basic legal rights. One can argue about what those rights should be but they must at least include the protection from physical violence and from arbitrary interference with life, liberty and property. Without these, social existence is no more than a crude contest in the deployment of force. Thirdly, there must be access to independent judges to vindicate these rights to administer the criminal law and to enforce the limits of State power”.
Certainly “…..we do not get to pick and choose the laws we will observe and obey. Each of us must accept the rule of all laws, even if we have to hold our noses in complying with some of them. “