The minefield of justice
Updated: Sep 26, 2022
"Government prevents injustice, other than such as it commits itself."
— Ibn Khaldun, Tunisian political thinker
Once upon a justice, Greek historian Herodotus recorded the macabre end of Sisamnes, a corrupt judge under Cambyses II of Persia. He accepted a bribe and delivered an unjust verdict. As a result, the king had him arrested and flayed alive. His skin was then used to cover the seat in which his son would sit in judgment.
Pro-death penalty advocates believe that this was a classic minefield for the establishment of justice under Cambyses II. This is what the people expected and accepted, albeit a cruel, unusual, but a nevertheless just verdict.
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), like Aristotle, recognised that humans form social communities described in the Arabic concept of asabiyyah — community spirit, group solidarity or simply tribalism. This social cohesion leads to the inevitable creation of the state whose purpose is to protect the interests of the citizens and to defend them against attack.
Protecting the interests of the citizens through the institutions of law and justice is no longer a constitutional safe haven guarantee unless it is slugged out in a court of law where the safe judge, mortally afraid to rock the boat, will become the quintessential expert in applying procedural laws to sidestep substantive law.