The rule of law

An integral part of any free society is the rule of law – the principle that no-one, no person, politician, race, party, or any entity is above the law and that understandable, established, and clear legal rules protect all against the arbitrary exercise of power.

A fundamental injustice of apartheid was its violation of the rule of law. In answer to this, the codification of the rule of law into the South African Constitution was a great step forward for our country and a victory for classical liberalism and liberty. However, in the years since that victory, the rule of law has come under increasing strain. The independence of the judiciary has been undermined, while the meaning of core concepts in the Bill of Rights is gradually being ‘transformed’ through the rulings of activist judges.  Decisions on prosecution have become increasingly politicised. The statutes enacted by Parliament are sometimes vague and uncertain, which allows officials to apply their provisions in different ways to different people. Increasingly, legislation now empowers ministers to make important new rules by way of regulation and with little further parliamentary scrutiny.

This erosion of the rule of law poses a great threat to liberty in South Africa. The IRR is thus committed to exposing poor judgments which detract from constitutional guarantees, demanding clear and certain legislation, and blowing the whistle on prosecutorial bias. It is also determined to uphold the principle of equality before the law and to help secure the right to be governed by constitutionally-compliant rules that are clear, unambiguous, and evenly applied to all.

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