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Features of the Rule of Law - The Laws Should Apply Equally To All

THE LAWS OF THE LAND SHOULD APPLY EQUALLY TO ALL, SAVE TO THE EXTENT THAT OBJECTIVE DIFFERENCES JUSTIFY DIFFERENTIATION

There should be one law for everybody, without any distinction. However, it is generally accepted that some categories of people should be treated differently because their position is in some important respect different (e.g. children, mentally ill, prisoners). However, any departure from the general rule should be checked to ensure that the differential treatment is based on real differences. Otherwise, the principle of equality before the law is infringed.

This is what happened in various documents: the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the U.S. Bill of Rights, for example, have been progressively amended in order to change the attribution of rights, excluding some categories of people, and the same happened in many European countries (in which law sanctioned discrimination against Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, etc.).
One of the main cases is the UK Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, which provided for the indefinite detention without charge or trial of non-nationals suspected of international terrorism. This statute was discriminatory against foreign people, and the terrorist attacks of July 2005 showed that also British people could be a menace in this sense. But the Government did not want to include British citizens in the provision of the statute, that was held by the House of Lords to be inconsistent with the ECHR.

di Luca Porcella
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