A kangaroo court or kangaroo trial is a colloquial term for a sham legal proceeding or court. The outcome of a trial by kangaroo court is essentially determined in advance, usually for the purpose of ensuring conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or by allowing no defense at all.
A kangaroo court’s proceedings deny, hinder or obstruct due process rights in the name of expediency. Typically, a kangaroo court will deliberately abuse one or more of the following rights of the accused:
The term is often applied to courts subjectively judged as such, while others consider the court to be legitimate and legal. A kangaroo court may be a court that has had its integrity compromised; for example, if the judge is not impartial and refuses to be recused.
It may also be an elaborately scripted event intended to appear fair while having the outcome predetermined from the start. Terms meaning “show trial”, like the German , indicate the result is fixed before (usually guilty): the “trial” is just for show. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s kangaroo trials against his enemies, whom he labeled enemies of the people, were notorious, notably in the context of the Great Purge.
In 2008, Singapore’s Attorney-General applied to the High Court to commence contempt proceedings against three individuals who appeared in the new Supreme Court building wearing identical white T-shirts bearing a palm-sized picture of a kangaroo dressed in a judge’s gown.
Following the January 25 Revolution in Egypt in 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces used military trials to obtain convictions of civilians in possibly over 10,000 trials that lasted on average 20 minutes, and in some cases lasting only a few minutes.
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