The Ecologist

More articles about
Related Articles

A better kind of justice

Nandor Tanczos

13th June, 2000

Nandor Tanczos thinks the modern legal system could learn a lot from traditional ideas of justice, such as those of the Maori people

Justice is a very simple and natural idea. It is something anyone can recognise. Victims of crime recognise justice when it is done. Ordinary people recognise justice when it is done. And most of the time, an offender will recognise it too.

Yet our modern criminal justice system, even when it works, very rarely leads to real justice.

The reason is that our modern, Westminster-based legal system is based not on justice, but on laws. If I stab someone, the problem, according to the justice system, is not that I hurt them, but that I broke the law. ‘The Crown’ is the complainant, the victim is just another witness, and if I can prove that I didn’t, technically, break the law, then I will go unpunished.

This is not real justice.

It is not real justice because modern court cases are aimed at proving guilt or innocence according to a written set of laws, rather than finding the truth of the matter. It is a system that is unsatisfying for victims and that does even not prevent criminals reoffending. It is a system without life.

There are clear alternatives to such a system. Some years ago, a lawyer here in New Zealand, Moana Jackson, wrote a report entitled ‘Maori...


To view the rest of this article - you must be a paying subscriber and Login

Previous Articles...


Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...




Help us keep the Ecologist platform going

Since 2012, the Ecologist has been owned and published by a small UK-based charity called the Resurgence Trust. We work hard to support the kind of independent journalism and comment that we know Ecologist readers enjoy but we need your help to keep going. We do all this on a very small budget with a very small editorial team and so joining the Trust or making a donation will show us you value our work and support the platform which is currently offered as a free service.

Join The Resurgence TrustDonate to support the Resurgence Trust