Athens Human Rights Festival, p. 6 ( May 4-5, 1996).


Quis custodiat ipsos custodes?

Who will watch the watchman?

This is one of the basic questions that must be asked in any society that aspires to the protection of human rights. Who will make sure that those who wield governmental power will themselves obey the law? This question is of especial importance in the administration of criminal justice. There is now in this country a gigantic law enforcement establishment (police, prosecutors, prison officials, etc.) exerting the coercive power of the state to ensure that ordinary citizens obey the law. But how do we make sure that this establishment itself--and in particular the police, the most coercive and intrusive governmental agents of all--obey the law? How do we prevent them from disobeying the Bill of Rights, which prohibits police abuse of power, and from disobeying other laws, including criminal statutes?