“Justice”, a Supported Argument

In most cases, legal conflicts occur as a result of the diverse meanings related to the universal terminology “justice.” For instance, Immanuel Kant’s  retributive justice highly falsifies this term as justice ceases to provide equitability and becomes a vengeful retaliation process (Maiese, n.d.). In fact, this word does not have an exact meaning which makes it difficult to resolve different cases using one definition, but the reality is that justice is best attained on the grounds of equity, neutrality, and righteousness for the purpose of moral judgment in any case.

The recent Khmer Rouge is one such a case, which poses a challenge on whether to deal with the abusive monarchical administration or to let reconciliation take its course in an already war-torn Cambodia. Under Pol Plot, the ruling Khmer Rouge regime perpetrated mass killings in Cambodia between 1975-1979 through severe beatings and death warrants for fishing illegally or failing to inform the government of all their daily activities (Kiernan 74). The victims, in this case, were religious groups, ethnic minority, and the majority rural inhabitants groups (Kiernan 79-83). In 1999, the UN and the Cambodian government jointly formed the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to bring to justice all those who were involved in the crimes against humanity (Kiernan 90). In this case, justice is quite challenging as there is fear that its approaches have some constraints that may hurt the Cambodian citizens in the end, or if well used, it will greatly benefit this state at large.  

Justice focuses on providing practical outcomes of a case as per the legally designed constitution of a country. Being an independent arm of government, the judiciary ensures that all public decisions are made on neutral grounds as evidence is solicited through legal processes, which exempt favoritism or fear of compromise. However, a judgment lacks neutrality if disparity occurs on racial and ethnic grounds, a process that shows the judiciary has negated from serving equal outcomes for the affected groups in court. In his book, Brandon Vogt stipulates that the best way to serve justice is by following the laid down judicial process as it is legally upheld by a country’s existing laws (93). Notably, Justice is not served equally in all countries as dictatorial regimes tend to influence judicial decisions due to the inadequate independence of this branch of government compared to democratic states where checks and balances are highly regarded. That is why a magistrate or judicial officer has the power and knowledge to make informed and responsible decisions on ethical grounds as each case demands and by the constitution of a country (Juhler et al. 1). However, in Cambodia, the efficiency of this process solely depends on the independence of the judiciary as the existing constitution is still clinging to the monarchical hierarchism that favors the ruling minority more than the majority civilians. Nonetheless, this country can ensure that neutrality is achieved if it continues to collaborate with the United Nations on an independent EACC platform. Here, the UN will uphold the universal human rights of all involved parties even if the Cambodian courts compromise on the civilian liberties. The neutrality of this process in resolving such a sensitive case guarantees predictability, accessibility, and appellate changes or outcomes for Cambodia.

Justice ensures that each legal case is addressed in righteous and equitable moral standards for the greater good of the majority population. In fact, the Bible provides that God perceives justice as equal and fair due to the absence of favoritism or bias. For instance, the scripture warns against swaying justice through bribery (The Bible Ex. 23:8 and Mic. 3:11). It also provides that judgment should be neutral for both the wealthy and poor (The Bible Lev. 19:15). Also, the law should give justice to all social classes, genders, aliens, or citizens (The Bible Ex. 22:21 and Lev. 20:33). In Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address to a war-torn America, he maintained that for the U.S. to achieve justice, individuals should co-exist peacefully and heal the wounds of the civil war to live as God deems right. During this inaugural address, Lincoln narrated that democracy legitimizes the rights and liberties of every human being (Bredhoff 52). Providing justice equitably and righteously indicates that human rights are paramount, while a supreme being who exists beyond the mortal man will measure the actions of each person and reward or punish people in equal measures.

Different people argue that justice should resolve each conflict righteously, equitably, and on neutral grounds. However, with a sensitive case like that of the Khmer Rouge, each context is debatable to some extent. For instance, it is still questionable if the Cambodian judiciary system can serve justice on neutral grounds as mandated by the global code of judicial ethics (JIWP n.d.). The reason is Cambodia, as a monarchical state, strains the relationship between the national and international actors since the hierarchical system in this country significantly influences every decision made by the judiciary in this country (Ciorciari n.d.). Therefore, there are chances that unless the courts are remodeled to uphold the universal standards of neutrality, the entire case will be compromised to great extents, hurting the majority civilians’ well-being.

On the other hand, defining and implementing justice on a righteous and equitable approach poses more problems to both parties as these concepts are defined differently. Equity is an insufficient argument as dominating powers will uphold that their status quo requires them to be rewarded more for claims of acceptable traditions and significant contributions to the Cambodian State (Lamont n.p.). The unfairness in this ideology coincides with that of John Rawl’s difference principle allows people in higher social status to have greater economic gains due to their hard work and extensive contributions to society even if the rewards provisioned to them do not improve the wellbeing of the poor minority (Lamont n.d.) Righteous living is inapplicable in modern eras as people now have different religious affiliations. For instance, the atheists do not believe in God; hence, they lead a spiritual culture that allows them to act as they wish without fear of causing harm to others as God reprimands (Craig n.p.). In essence, the justice systems’ equity, righteousness, and neutrality approaches are important concepts, but in the Khmer Rouge case, each ideology is debatable.

As discussed, it is evident that justice in the Khmer Rouge case should be provided in equal measures of the crimes that transpired in Cambodia, where every ethical detail should be accounted for, rest the results of the coming judgment causes more harm than good. Notably, if the justice system upholds its moral value and delivers an equitable, righteous, and neutral judgment, Cambodia will flourish in peace in the ensuing years. However, justice, in this case, is debatable on the grounds of fairness, religious affiliations, and power dominance of the ruling government. Essentially, the Khmer case is a serious issue that demands justified approaches for the right of the majority civilians and the Cambodian peace.


Works Cited

Bredhoff, Stacey.  American Originals. The University of Washington Press, 2001.

Ciorciari, John. “Transitional Justice in Cambodia’s Internationalized Court: Working Paper”.

Japan Policy Research Institute, http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp117.html. Accessed December 2, 2016.

Craig, Lane. “Can We Be Good Without God?” Reasonable Faith, n.d.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/canwe-be-good-without-god. Accessed November 25, 2016.

JIWP. Bologna and Milan Global Code of Judicial Ethics 2015. International Association of

Judicial Independence and World Peace (JIWP), http://www.jiwp.org/global-code-of-judicial-ethics. Accessed December 2, 2016.

Juhler, Jennifer, Iowa State Court Administrator’s Office, and Cady, Mark. “Morality, Decision-Making, and Judicial Ethics.” The American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial, Conduct, 2012, pp. 1-13.

Kiernan, Ben. “The Cambodian Genocide, 1975-1979.” Centuries of Genocide: Essays and Eyewitness Accounts 2012, pp. 73-90.

Lamont, Julian, and Favor, Christi. “Distributive Justice.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of   Philosophy, 2 Jan. 2013. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-distributive/ Accessed November 25, 2016.

The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, Oxford UP, 2001.

Vogt, Brandon. Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World. Our Sunday Visitor, 2014.

Maiese, Michelle. “Retributive Justice: What Retributive Justice Is”. Beyond Intractability Resources, http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/retributive-justice. Accessed December 2, 2016.

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