In a Time of Trouble: Law and Liberty in South Africa's State of Emergency

Synopsis

Can the law really protect human rights when they are most under siege? During much of South Africa's state of emergency, the country's highest court grimly rejected efforts to use the law to restrain emergency power. This work examines the intersection between law and emergency power in South Africa. Ellmann begins with an outline of the legal framework that exists in South Africa, pointing out the capacity it has to mitigate the excesses of the legislators' designs. He continues by demonstrating through the judges decisions that, with few exceptions, they repeatedly vindicated the emergency powers. Ellmann suggests that though a legal tradition existed for the protection of human rights, it was denied as a result of certain judges' decisions. This study teaches that law is no guarantee of liberty, but it can help slow the march of oppression.

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