Daily Archives: May 17, 2020

THIS IS JUST A LITTLE ADVICE

By  Teshale Aberra

I came across something in a book I grabbed this morning called “POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS: Law in the struggle against apartheid. 1980-1994.”

Somewhere in this book, it says the following about apartheid South Africa ‘s Courts:

“[They] occasionally invalidated racist actions by the executive or legislator, such as segregation of public accommodation or disenfranchisement of Cape Coloured voters.”

Apartheid South Africa courts were not the ideal types of courts. No sane person is meant to praise that era’s judicial system, as there is nothing praise worthy about them.

And yet, there were instances where they were used by the oppressed majority black people to defend some of their rights. They were used as a channel through which oppression was aired, dramatized, exposed and challenged.

In short, even apartheid South Africa Courts were used to challenge the force of apartheid.

My question is, can Ethiopia’s courts, both Federal or States level draw some lesson from apartheid South Africa’s Courts?

To be honest, I have always thought that way and puzzled by this comparison.

I say so, because, leave alone judges who are paid by the government and frequently removed from office, allegedly, for lack of loyalty to the ruling party, even private attorneys (lawyers) are not free to take up cases which they think could call the attention of the ruling party. Fear of reprisal is real.

We witnessed time and again while lawyers decline cases for fear of reprisal. I am sure the South African lawyers were not totally free to represent the victims of the system of apartheid.

But they tried their best and some judges did what they had to. They are, as judges and their decision as the work of courts is remembered for the good work done.

I think Ethiopia’s courts may try to follow their suit.

Just imagine what could happen if lawyers brought a legal case at Ethiopia’s courts to challenge ‘the recent government measure of deployment of the deffense force, which put a large part of the country under miltary administration, suspending civil and political rights of people in those areas and caused huge loss of life and property, all in clear violation of the constitution!

Perhaps the lawyers who contributed to this kind of effort and the judges who could have made a decision to stop this kind of madness would have been remembered for generations. Above all they could have contributed something towards the continuity of Ethiopia as a state/nation.

More importantly they could’ve contributed in efforts of or wishes to establish a somehow independent judiciary.

Rather than participating in the melodrama and orchestration of breaking the constitution, as we saw on TV yesterday, judges, legal scholars and lawyers better spend their time on devising strategies on how to pull the entire judiciary out of the deep crisis it puts itself in, or the crisis forced on it by the system.

THIS IS JUST A LITTLE ADVICE