Innovations, Spring 2008 (A quarterly journal published by MIT Press)
By Karen Tse
Every day in countries throughout the world, citizens are arbitrarily detained, tortured, and denied access to counsel. In recent years, however, the majority of transitional and post-conflict countries have demonstrated their commitment to human rights by signing international conventions and passing domestic laws to safeguard citizen rights. Unfortunately, many of these new laws remain unenforced due to a lack of trained lawyers, legal infrastructure, and resources. As a result, torture remains the instrument of choice as the cheapest form of investigation. Although this human rights issue threatens millions of people all over the world, the human rights advocacy community has focused much of its efforts on higher profile political prisoners and on developing the international and local
prosecutorial side of the justice system.Without support for the local implementation of the rule of law, which includes effective defense counsel, the vast majority of ordinary citizens are still left vulnerable to everyday practices of brutality and lack of due process rights.