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WCED Lecture - "Undue Process: Persecution and Punishment in Autocratic Courts"
One of the most striking trends of modern authoritarianism is the extent to which power has been consolidated through law. In this seemingly legalistic world order, courts have unsurprisingly emerged as a prominent forum to adjudicate conflict and contest power. When courts become sites of autocratic contestation, the proceedings which ensue often bear little resemblance to the conduct of courts in functioning democracies. This is especially true wherever autocrats invoke judicial procedures for repressive ends, a practice sometimes referred to as "persecution through prosecution.” Yet, the judicial dimensions of repression are largely underappreciated despite the far-reaching implications of using law and courts to facilitate oppressive outcomes. In this talk, Fiona Shen-Bayh will address questions focused directly on the role that courts play in strategies of autocratic survival: why do autocrats bother holding a political trial when the outcomes are assumed to be known from the start? What are the goals of going to court and by what mechanisms are these goals achieved? Do autocrats face risks by going to court, and if so, how do they ensure that proceedings go as planned?

Feb 23, 2021 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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