Having an effective justice system is fundamental to having a peaceful democratic society.
That is why thousands of Israelis have been on the streets since early 2023 protesting against the reforms of the justice system by Benjamin Netanyahu, the most right-wing prime minister in Israel’s history. The first of his planned changes was passed on 24 July. This so-called “reasonableness” bill removed the Supreme Court’s power to cancel government decisions it deems unreasonable.
Doubts in the UK about the effectiveness of the justice system is why the gross miscarriage of justice exemplified by the false conviction of Andrew Malkinson has attracted such public attention. After his conviction was overturned on 26 July, Mr Malkinson said:
“When a jury finds you guilty when you are innocent, reality does not change. You know you did not commit the crime, but all the people around you start living in a false fantasy universe and treat you as if you are guilty.
“Now I have finally been exonerated, I am left outside this court without an apology, without an explanation, jobless, homeless, expected to simply slip back into the world with no acknowledgement of the gaping black hole they opened up in my life. A black hole that looms so large behind me that I fear it will swallow me up.”
His case demonstrates how the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which is supposed to investigate potential miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, can seriously fail to do its job. He had applied to the CCRC to review his conviction twice and twice they had refused to refer it to the court despite new evidence being presented. The CCRC has defended these failures.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 is about promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. People everywhere should be free of fear from all forms of violence and feel safe as they go about their lives whatever their ethnicity, faith or sexual orientation.
Peace One Day ran an event on 17 July entitled Justice Live 2023 whose objectives were:
- To promote international criminal justice and support the work of the International Criminal Court.
- To bring together some of the most prolific experts in their field to demonstrate the importance of international law.
- To encourage constructive discussions focusing on justice being fundamental to humanity’s survival and what individuals can do to engage with the rule of law.