Transparency isn't enough

My latest Guardian column, "Transparency means nothing without justice," is up. I wrote this before the G20 debacle (it was delayed due to an administrative problem at the Guardian), but all the points are just as relevant to the G20's climate camp as they are to last summer's version of it.

And here's where transparency breaks down. We've known about all this since last August – seven months and more. It was on national news. It was on the web. Anyone who cared about the issue knew everything they needed to know about it. And everyone had the opportunity to find out about it: remember, it was included in national news broadcasts, covered in the major papers – it was everywhere.

And yet … nothing much has happened in the intervening eight months. Simply knowing that the police misbehaved does nothing to bring them to account.

Transparency means nothing unless it is accompanied by the rule of law. It means nothing unless it is set in a system of good and responsible government, of oversight of authority that expeditiously and effectively handles citizen complaints. Transparency means nothing without justice.

Transparency means nothing without justice