“I Am The State, I Am The Law”

30 12 2009

General Aziz: "I Am the State, I Am the Law"

News websites published today the judge’s ruling ordering Hanevy’s preventive detention. The document states that he is to remain in custody because the appeals court doesn’t have his file. In plain English, the legalese of the document roughly says: “It’s the prison warden and the appeals’ judge’s responsibility to decide  an inmate’s release, the ball is in their court.” Hanevy’s lawyers point out that the judge could have ordered his release but stopped short of that in his ruling.

Hat’s tip to Mauritanian journalists and Hanevy’s relatives. They organized a a sit-in at the UN’s Nouakchott offices to protest their colleagues unfair detention after the police prevented them from doing so in front of Nouakchott’s courthouse.

Reports Without Borders (RSF) joined the fray today calling the detention “a violation of current [Mauritanian] laws” and holding the government responsible for his health and demanding his immediate release.

The whole situation is sarcastically summed up by the cartoon above: in a country whose motto is “Honor, Brotherhood, Justice”: lawyers pointing out that Mauritania’s worst dictator had a minimum regard for due course are rebuffed by General Aziz: “I am the state, I am the law, I appoint whoever I want, I jail whoever I want. Move on!”

For me, the lesson to be drawn from today’s events is that Mauritania has a civil society and that its members are standing up because they understand that this case is about their freedoms too. Also, this case fits in the new repressive trend in the Arab World: governments are increasingly resorting to pseudo-legal tactics to repress their political opponents.

In the meantime, today is day 3 in Hanevy’s hunger strike.


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