(December 01, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Janasansadaya, a well-known human rights organization in Sri Lanka has produced a short interview with Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission. In the interview, the difference between what is now popularly called “law and order” and the concept of the rule of law is explained. In Sri Lanka, governments have used the words “law and order” to mean whatever action the government deems fit in order to maintain what it calls ‘order’. For example, extrajudicially killing suspected criminals is considered good practice in order to maintain order; suppression of the expression of public opinion is also considered good practice in order to prevent challenges to the government in the name of order.
The government’s idea of law and order is the prevention of challenges to the government and the most important requirement for law and order is to prevent all opposition to its plans.
Opposition to the government is considered as disorder. Thus, the idea of law and order is to maintain total control by the government with or without law.
On the other hand, the rule of law means the following, as summed up by the eminent British jurist Tom Bingham:
“The core of the existing principle is, I suggest, that all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly made, taking effect (generally) in the future and publicly administered in the courts.” (Tom Bingham, Rule of Law. Penguin Books 2011, page 8).