Aug 16, 2012

'Justice for all: military jurisdiction before the Supreme Court'

El Universal: Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Program Translation
See Spanish Original.

Santiago A. Canton. In contradiction with the basic principles of our democracies, there have always existed powerful groups in society that create institutional structures to limit the capacity of the rest of society to know, control, evaluate, and judge the actions of its members. Military jurisdiction is one such structure that provides numerous examples of flagrant violations of human rights that remain in impunity.

During World War I in France, Military Justice executed hundreds of French soldiers after decisions made by the Councils of War. The French Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau, expressed a phrase that would become history: "military justice is to justice, what military music is to music." The expression is of enormous use to understand an important aspect of justice in a democratic society: justice must be one and one alone for all, without exception. No one can be above the law; the long arm of the justice must reach everyone equally, "without distinction to race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, or other basis, national or social origin, economic position, birth, or other condition," as established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Like many of the norms and institutions in Latin America’s countries, military justice is an inheritance of the Spanish Monarchy of the XVIII century, which sought to protect its army from the consequences of its wars abroad. It responded to a military that protected the Monarchy from the internal uprisings that challenged the continuity of the regime. Military justice also prevented the civil justice system from affecting persons charged with ensuring the stability and protection of the same Monarchy. Read more.

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