I have a particular interest in the Rule of Law and the things that undermine it. My response to the CBC is at the bottom. I think Canadians have blind spots. /Sandra
A woman hugs her husband, next to a placard which reads “I’m a pusher”, who was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in Manila on July 23, 2016. There has been a surge in killings by anti-drug vigilantes who leave victims’ corpses on city streets wrapped in packaging tape with signs accusing them of being drug dealers. (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Last June, a foul-mouthed provocateur named Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines.
He came to office with a pledge to stamp drug crime out, by any violent means necessary. He encourages police and civilians alike to kill drug dealers and users.
Since he took office, several thousand suspected drug dealers and users have been killed by police and vigilantes. Human rights advocates and leaders around the world have expressed their alarm — but in a recent poll, his approval rating remained above 75 per cent.
[Lynching] is a form of extrajudicial violence, or extralegal violence, that is public … perpetrators want people to see this, as a spectacle of violence. It is particularly cruel. In other words, it involves, always, some form of “over-killing.” It’s not just about causing the death of the victim, but actually dehumanizing the body.
– Gema Santamaria
It’s a reminder that vigilante killings are no mere historical relic of the US South, where African-Americans were terrorized by the regime of lynching for decades in the 19th and 20th Centuries. And it might be said that the Philippines are just catching up with the practice of extrajudicial violence in several Latin American countries.
Gema Santamaria is a leading expert on vigilantism. She is an assistant professor and the director of the International Relations Undergraduate Program at ITAM, a university in Mexico City. Professor Santamaria recently spoke with Michael Enright from a studio in Austin, Texas.
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MY RESPONSE, SUBMITTED ON-LINE TO THE SUNDAY EDITION, CBC
Thank-you for another excellent interview.
If I was a techie I would dub it. I would insert “Canada” for some of those unfathomable countries. Then see how it reads.
As I understand things, the role of the state is to protect citizens against violence. Citizens agree to abandon violence and vigilantism; we pay taxes for policing and the justice system, in exchange for the ability to live in relative security, without fear.
The Justice System is funded – – owned – – by citizens. It is the responsibility of citizens.
If we are fortunate, in the face of ineffective systems, communities will find their own ways to meet local needs. Neighbourhood Watch, for instance. Or programs that focus on the healthy development of the community, all its children and the environment.
If we are ineffective, violence will increase for the simple reason that it’s affordable to hire someone to break the knee-caps of an aggressor.
It is not affordable to use the justice system.
The Police typically will not handle, for example, cyber violence. Amanda Todd, the UN admonitions for countries to do something about cyber violence come to mind.
If the Justice and Policing Systems, the Governments in Canada, will not dedicate resources to create access to a Justice System designed to serve every day citizens, violence will increase because people tolerate only so much before they take matters into their own hands.
Violence begets violence in that system – – it is the available means of defence.
The Rule of Law is fundamental to Democracy. It is undermined through our failures to reform and evolve. There are too many financial beneficiaries of the status quo, roadblocks to what needs to be done.
Democracy becomes more and more fragile, the more insecure people become. Especially in environments where educational institutions and the pervading culture are about disempowerment and distraction of the individual. I am thinking that, amidst the complexities, Vigilantism is a return of the feeling of power, after the social and political contracts have been broken.