It has been a real treat to read Judge Balancy’s writing as a guest in Forum (11.01.12). Clarity and simplicity ensured that the piece could be read and understood by everyone. While the whole piece needs to be pondered upon, there are certain points that merit closer attention.
“…que la justice dans le sens absolu du terme n’est parfois qu’un idéal : un système de droit ne garantit que « justice according to law ». The concept of justice delivered is quite often misconstrued by one and all. There is a tendency to forget that judgment does not necessarily mean justice done as laws limit the judgment itself. It is usually expected that the sentence delivered to perpetrators would equal the level of the crime committed. However, very often this is not the case. For instance, in case of murder, the maximum sentence given is life. For some, a life spent in prison does not equate a life taken.
The public often deplores the fact that sentences handed are not hard enough and that laws should be changed. It is forgotten that to implement current laws is a hard job in itself as the judge puts it: “Mais il est possible qu’un membre du judiciaire veuille de son propre gré « faire plaisir » à l’exécutif pour quelque motif que ce soit. Il y a aussi la possibilité de pressions internes”. When such is the case, do members of the public need to hesitate to resort to law? What guarantee is there that when it comes to cases involving laypeople that some kind of internal machinations will not be against their favour?
The judge lays out an ideal situation where all ingredients that are needed to implement the smooth running of the law are put together (La Protection Des Droits). While at first glance, Mauritius seems to possess all the ingredients, the question that begs itself is why is there a sense of injustice when it comes to the judgment, or lack of, for certain people and too swift a judgment for others? Surely, one or more of the components are not working properly. To find out which one is a true ‘casse tete chinois’ as the components could also be interlinked. There should be an endeavor to keep looking for solutions for after all, it is a responsibility to work towards the betterment of one’s own country. Since on the political front there is very little that is in the hands of the people, at least there are other departments where people, not necessarily politically linked who can raise certain awareness and wake the people concerned from lethargy.
As everything else, the basis for proper functioning is education. As suggested (Questions en Guise de Réponses), for people from all walks of life to act responsibly, a basic education in law and justice is necessary. The aim is not to make every citizen a lawyer but rather a law abiding and legally conscious one. Should a basic legal education be given, there is a good chance that there will be more legally responsible citizens. It does not necessarily mean that corruption or crime will be eradicated. But it does mean that a socially responsible person from any occupation or station in life will be able to be more aware of not only rights but also procedures and act accordingly.
Contributions from people of such expertise are very important, especially in current times where confusion on all fronts reign king. They raise awareness and a consciousness that is needed for people to feel empowered to get up and get themselves acquainted with what is their due and right. It also allows people to get an insider glimpse of how certain systems and departments work. Interesting propositions have been made, here’s hoping that equally progressive steps will be taken to try to implement them.