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Editorial

The Rule of Law Must Prevail

The outrageous slaughter of innocent people by terrorists on September 11, 2001, strikes directly at the rule of law. We refugee law judges must fight back.

The criminals responsible for these acts threaten all social structures, including their own. Already, we see faces of refugees from luckless, war-torn Afghanistan flowing over international boundaries, hoping to remove their families from harm’s way. Acting outside the law of nations and human morality, the terrorists would reduce all societies to the state of unhappy chaos that plagues their own arena.

It might be tempting in this context to view as irrelevant our role of impartially deciding individual cases under the 1951 Geneva Convention and other international agreements on refugees. Some undoubtedly will assert that mutually agreed upon concepts of fair play and due process cease to have a constructive role in the face of such overwhelming evil.

But, we must strengthen, not abandon, our commitment to high principles and the rule of law at this time. If we do not, the terrorists certainly will have struck at the heart of all free societies.

The rule of law is our first line of defense against the forces of darkness that would sweep us under. We must all join together and fight to preserve and brighten its shining beacon.

Paul Wickham Schmidt

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