Rule of law applies even in worst case

There should be nothing admirable in the fact that court-appointed lawyers have agreed to defend Rashid al Rashidi, the self-admitted rapist and killer of a four-year-old child.

There should be nothing admirable in the fact that court-appointed lawyers have agreed to defend Rashid al Rashidi, the self-admitted rapist and killer of the four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed. Al Rashidi is now appealing against his death sentence for that heinous crime in front of the Dubai Court of Appeals. His lawyers will probably seek to reduce the sentence by noting the difficult circumstances of his upbringing and plead for clemency.
Several lawyers have already declined to take up his case, understandably reluctant to associate their reputation with him. The first lawyer at his trial before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance withdrew, saying he judged al Rashidi's crime too repulsive. Like all defendants, however, al Rashidi deserves a fair hearing no matter what the nature of his crime. The courts had to step in to provide him with adequate representation.
A modern nation needs a credible and mature judicial system. The focus of that effort is understandably on enacting a modern body of laws; on empowering an autonomous, transparent and well-trained judiciary; on training for a police force that respects the rights of the suspects as it gathers evidence and build cases; and on articulating a clear set of judicial procedures and streamlining the process.
But what is as fundamental as these components is upholding the rights of the defendant. Lawyers have a special responsibility in that regard. They have a duty to support and advise those who come to them for legal assistance, and not to allow their personal feelings to prevent them from providing a proper defence. The lawyers who have declined to represent al Rashidi unwittingly erode the standing of the judicial process, even if their personal feelings are understandable. They need not fear the opprobrium of society for upholding a most basic individual right. To the contrary, living by the ideals of their profession should bring them respect.

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