Author Topic: Legal decolonization  (Read 981 times)


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Re: Legal decolonization
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2022, 08:52:52 pm »
If we look at the history of policing in ancient non-Western civilizations:

Law enforcement in ancient China was carried out by "prefects" for thousands of years since it developed in both the Chu and Jin kingdoms of the Spring and Autumn period. In Jin, dozens of prefects were spread across the state, each having limited authority and employment period. They were appointed by local magistrates, who reported to higher authorities such as governors, who in turn were appointed by the emperor, and they oversaw the civil administration of their "prefecture", or jurisdiction. Under each prefect were "subprefects" who helped collectively with law enforcement in the area. Some prefects were responsible for handling investigations, much like modern police detectives. Prefects could also be women.[13] Local citizens could report minor judicial offenses against them such as robberies at a local prefectural office. The concept of the "prefecture system" spread to other cultures such as Korea and Japan.

In Babylonia, law enforcement tasks were initially entrusted to individuals with military backgrounds or imperial magnates during the Old Babylonian period, but eventually, law enforcement was delegated to officers known as paqūdus, who were present in both cities and rural settlements. A paqūdu was responsible for investigating petty crimes and carrying out arrests.[14][15]

In ancient Egypt evidence of law enforcement exists as far back as the Old Kingdom period. There are records of an office known as "Judge Commandant of the Police" dating to the fourth dynasty.[16] During the fifth dynasty at the end of the Old Kingdom period, officers armed with wooden sticks were tasked with guarding public places such as markets, temples, and parks, and apprehending criminals. They are known to have made use of trained monkeys, baboons, and dogs in guard duties and catching criminals. After the Old Kingdom collapsed, ushering in the First Intermediate Period, it is thought that the same model applied. During this period, Bedouins were hired to guard the borders and protect trade caravans. During the Middle Kingdom period, a professional police force was created with a specific focus on enforcing the law, as opposed to the previous informal arrangement of using warriors as police. The police force was further reformed during the New Kingdom period. Police officers served as interrogators, prosecutors, and court bailiffs, and were responsible for administering punishments handed down by judges.
Law enforcement systems existed in the various kingdoms and empires of ancient India. The Apastamba Dharmasutra prescribes that kings should appoint officers and subordinates in the towns and villages to protect their subjects from crime. Various inscriptions and literature from ancient India suggest that a variety of roles existed for law enforcement officials such as those of a constable, thief catcher, watchman, and detective.[23] In ancient India up to medieval and early modern times, kotwals were in charge of local law enforcement.[24]

Persian Empire
The Persian Empire had well-organized police forces. A police force existed in every place of importance. In the cities, each ward was under the command of a Superintendent of Police, known as a Kuipan, who was expected to command implicit obedience in his subordinates. Police officers also acted as prosecutors and carried out punishments imposed by the courts. They were required to know the court procedure for prosecuting cases and advancing accusations.[25]
The Americas
Pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas also had organized law enforcement. The city-states of the Maya civilization had constables known as tupils, as well as bailiffs.[29] In the Aztec Empire, judges had officers serving under them who were empowered to perform arrests, even of dignitaries.[30] In the Inca Empire, officials called curaca enforced the law among the households they were assigned to oversee, with inspectors known as tokoyrikoq (lit. 'he who sees all') also stationed throughout the provinces to keep order.[31][32]

a common feature is a top-down approach. In contrast:

The English system of maintaining public order since the Norman conquest was a private system of tithings known as the mutual pledge system. This system was introduced under Alfred the Great. Communities were divided into groups of ten families called tithings, each of which was overseen by a chief tithingman. Every household head was responsible for the good behavior of his own family and the good behavior of other members of his tithing. Every male aged 12 and over was required to participate in a tithing. Members of tithings were responsible for raising "hue and cry" upon witnessing or learning of a crime, and the men of his tithing were responsible for capturing the criminal.
Following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the tithing system was tightened with the frankpledge system. By the end of the 13th century, the office of constable developed. Constables had the same responsibilities as chief tithingmen and additionally as royal officers. The constable was elected by his parish every year.
From about 1500, private watchmen were funded by private individuals and organisations to carry out police functions. They were later nicknamed 'Charlies', probably after the reigning monarch King Charles II. Thief-takers were also rewarded for catching thieves and returning the stolen property. They were private individuals usually hired by crime victims.
Up to the early 18th century, the level of state involvement in law enforcement in Britain was low. Although some law enforcement officials existed in the form of constables and watchmen, there was no organized police force.
Law enforcement was mostly up to the private citizens, who had the right and duty to prosecute crimes in which they were involved or in which they were not.
Thief-takers became infamously known not so much for what they were supposed to do, catching real criminals and prosecuting them, as for "setting themselves up as intermediaries between victims and their attackers, extracting payments for the return of stolen goods and using the threat of prosecution to keep offenders in thrall". Some of them, such as Jonathan Wild, became infamous at the time for staging robberies in order to receive the reward.[46][47]

Thus the rightist feeling as presented in the article you linked to:

Policing is best accomplished as a uniquely local endeavor. The police are a part of the communities they serve, and centralizing them in Washington would change that for the worse.

is in line with the latter approach.