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Sunday 21 April 2019
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Laws must be applied ethically

The laws in any country are a central figure when it comes to maintaining harmony. It is therefore safe to say that laws should not be used to ridicule those in power or to suppress those who are not.
What a week it was. For us, Monday started with a ruling in the High Court rendering the attempt by the NCIS to gag us as one that failed.
Namibian laws are inherently good, however there are those who every now and again try to use the law for the wrong reasons.
The law is important for a society for it serves as a norm of conduct for citizens and it acts as a guideline as to what is accepted in society.
Without it, there would be conflicts between social groups and communities.
Therefore, we must at all times remain cognisant of the fact that laws must complement each other instead of competing because all laws serve a common fundamental master, the National Constitution.
It is thus worthy to note that we should not allow the usage of certain laws to suppress other laws.
After all, the phrase ‘your rights end where mine begins’ was not coined for nothing.
However, the supreme truth remains that no-one, not even the security apparatus of the country is above the law.
It should be considered not solely as an instrument of the government but as a rule to which the entire society, including the government, is bound to. As such, the rule of law is fundamental in advancing democracy.
Governments inclusive of its offices, ministries are agencies do not fall outside the ambit of the law. Here we are all equal.
Strengthening the rule of law has to be approached not only by focusing on the application of norms and procedures.
One must also emphasize its fundamental role in protecting rights and advancing inclusiveness – in this way framing the protection of rights within the broader discourse on human development.
When addressing the rule of law and democracy nexus, a fundamental distinction has to be drawn between “rule by law”, whereby law is an instrument of government and government is considered above the law, and “rule of law”, which implies that everyone in society is bound by the law, including the government. Essentially, constitutional limits on power, a key feature of democracy, require adherence to the rule of law.
Laws must be applied ethically at all times.
While there are certain scenarios regarding patient care when what is written in the law might seem to counter what is ethically appropriate, in general, the law and ethics complement each other.
The Oxford Dictionary defines responsibility as having a duty to do something; a moral obligation to behave correctly.
Accountability means adhering to specific standards, for being liable for any harm caused by one’s actions.
It also sets expectations for certain behaviour, and requires one to report, explain, and be answerable for resulting consequences. Beyond regulation, firms’ organizational culture should thus also include adequate tools and mechanisms to assess individual accountability and responsibility.
Therefore, in a rule of law, there should be no persons or institutions be it public or private that are not subjected to judicial oversight.
Of course the levels and extent of accountability will differ from institution to institution, but we should not allow a system that creates room for institutions to operate as they wish.
Our lawmakers should therefore remain vigilant because of the constant changes, hence legislation needs to be updated periodically to reflect the developments.
I am not oblivious to the fact that laws are not omnipotent solutions to problems in our society, but if applied ethically and avoid using them selectively when it suits our agenda, laws will go a long way when it comes to strengthening our democracy.




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