All information thanks to GalileoAce.
The Cardassians were once a spiritual people. But because their planet was resource-poor, starvation and disease were rampant and people died by the millions.
With the rise of the military, new territories and technology were acquired by violence, at the cost of millions of lives sacrificed to the war effort. The military played a significant role in early [[Cardassian Society, and there was a compulsory military service for males. Military monuments line the Cardassian Homeworld, with some serving as burial sites.
- 1 The Cardassian Race
- 2 Politics
- 3 The Detapa Council
- 4 Titles
- 5 Ministers of the Council
- 5.1 Defense Ministry
- 5.2 Ministry of the Economy
- 5.3 Security Ministry
- 5.4 Ministry of Justice
- 5.5 Public Health & Culture
- 5.6 Ministry of Science
- 5.7 Allocation
- 5.8 Information Service
- 5.9 Local Government
- 5.10 Foreign Relationships
- 5.11 Justice System
- 6 History
The Cardassian Race
The Cardassians are a reptilian-like humanoid race. In appearance they are tall, long necked, and marked by several bony protrusions and ridges. Their skin type and hair color varies from light purple to a greenish hue, and near black.
Starfleet Captain Edward Jellico described the Cardassians as being “like timber wolves, predators. They’re bold in large numbers, and cautious by themselves. They have a distinctive need to establish a dominant position in any social gathering.”
However not all [[Cardassians are one-dimensionally evil. Some walk the same line between duty, choice and belief that most [[Humans do.
They tend to have large families. Their children keep pets, such as the usually white, ferret-like Wompat. Cardassians celebrate birthdays, respect marriage, and honor advanced age as a sign of power and dignity.
They like orderliness in all things, and believe that there is no dilemma that cannot be solved by a disciplined mind.
The Cardassians are an extremely talkative, and are fond of literature, which seems to reflect their sense of duty – one of their greatest books is The Never Ending Sacrifice.
Those of the military caste marry in order to secure their career and position in the government.
Cardassians recognize polygamy as a viable family social structure. The First wife is chosen for the following: political clout, wealth, intellect, educational training, social status.
The Second wife: the same reason apply, but the importance is less. Since the first marriage is mainly of convenience, the second wife is chosen for her physical attractiveness.
Although males dominate society, the females importance is greatly recognized in population growth. Offspring are important to Cardassian survival so it's not uncommon for a family to have more then seven children.
One of their greatest characteristics of Cardassians is their devotion to family; caring for parents as well as children. Families of up to four generations under one roof are not uncommon. Children may keep pets. Swearing the truth on the lives of one's children is tantamount to the highest honesty a Cardassian can attest to. Parents are manipulated by state media in the name of their children, and the presumed-guilty justice system aims to impress children against anti-state lawlessness and chaos, inviting some to the courtroom live and others to watch. To abandon a child, even one thought dead on Bajor, is enough to publicly and privately humiliate a politician and ruin his career. Despite that, true orphans have no status in society and are simply forgotten - especially the half-breed children the Cardassians had with Bajorans.
Another trait is an attention to detail: they taught record-keeping skills to many planets, including Bajor. Cardassians are known for their photographic memory. Their ability to decipher and translate language at a rapid rate is astonishing.
Cardassians are normally very protective of their territories. They don’t permit anyone to travel in their space without the express permission of Central Command or the New Detapa Council. This rule in enforced by military patrol vessels, strategically placed at perimeter checkpoints throughout Cardassian space and territories within their system and the Demilitarized Zone.
In 2309, the Cardassian begin the occupation of Bajor, subjugating the people and mining its resources. The occupation lasts for 60 years.
They construct the space station, Terok Nor, initially as a resource processing station. Then they systematically strip the surface of Bajor of its resources. They do the same to Terok Nor when they abandon it, leaving the station a shambles.
The Cardassians are infamous for their maltreatment of prisoners. But in the world of commerce, they are known for paying their bills, though their officials and officers are not above taking bribes – even from “lowly Bajorans”.
It was said that a Cardassian citizen cannot sit down to a meal without the dish being duly recorded by the Order. They claim to be more efficient then the Romulan Tal'Shiar, who can’t compete when it comes to intelligence gathering and covert operations. However the Order was seriously weakened by an unsuccessful attack on the Dominion in 2371.
Cardassians boast that they have the most efficient criminal investigation system in the quadrants. The verdict is always the same – guilty.
Cardassian citizens enjoy watching justice triumph over evil every time, and fine it comforting. The authorities believe it’s good for the populace to see these spectacles of justice, feeling that the trials demonstrate the futility of ‘contrary’ behavior.
The Detapa Council
The Detapa Council is the governing body of the Cardassian Union, at least in theory. In practice, the Council held power for scant few of the 500 years of its existence. Until recently, it served primarily as a puppet of other factions on Cardassia. Now the Detapa Council has an opportunity to govern the Cardassian Union. It only remains to be seen whether or not a new generation of Cardassian leadership can seize the opportunity and make it happen.
The Detapa Council was founded some five centuries years ago on Cardassia Prime, before the development of warp-travel and the Union as it exists today. The original Council formed from a loose alliance of nobles, military leaders, and aristocrats following the end of the Second Hebitian period.
The Cardassia of the time was a chaotic collection of city-states and warring nations that only recently began to settle their differences with diplomacy rather than weapons. The Council was Cardassia's first true world government. In order to satisfy the different factions involved, representatives on the council were chosen from a broad section of the population, both civilian and military, to represent the greatest possible range of interests. Membership on the Council was awarded according to merit and ability, although local and regional politics influenced the choice of candidate. It was a compromise organization, but it worked, at least at first.
The Detapa Council managed to unify the disparate nations of Cardassia by holding out a dream of a stronger, more prosperous world for all Cardassians. Their newfound prosperity would come from the stars, the Council said, all Cardassians had to do was to reach out and seize their rightful destiny. So it was with great fervour that Cardassian society devoted itself to the development and perfection of spaceflight, first using lightships and chemical rockets, followed by ion drives, impulse drive and, finally, warp-drive technology.
The development of these new technologies was overseen by the Cardassian military, the self-appointed guardians of public order. The Central Command allocated resources, directed research, maintained law and order, and protected Cardassia from any outside threat. It wasn't long before the Central Command dominated all major areas of Cardassian life. At first, the Detapa Council was content to allow Central Command free rein, since it functioned so efficiently. By the time the Council realized they were merely approving decisions Central Command already made, it was too late. Central Command held the power, and they weren't about to let it go. Their continued success allowed the Cardassian military to maintain a stranglehold on the government for centuries.
For years the Detapa Council was made up of popular figureheads able to play to the people in public ceremonies and broadcasts. The members of the Council had prestige, but little or no political power, and they knew it. Occasionally, a young idealist would make it onto the Council, only to be rendered impotent by the Council's restrictions and the influence of the Central Command. Many in Central Command actually considered the Council a good place to keep an eye on political agitators and opponents where they could do no harm. The military members of the Council held all the power.
That changed when a civilian uprising on Cardassia Prime overthrew Central Command, following the devastation of the Obsidian Order in the Omarion Nebula Incident. Suddenly, the Detapa Council found themselves holding the reins of power, and facing the possibility of a Klingon invasion. At a loss for what to do, the Council accepted the assistance of Gul Dukat in escaping Cardassia Prime before the Klingons could arrive to execute them, suspecting they were Founders in disguise.
The invasion was halted and the Council returned to power just in time for Gul Dukat to negotiate an alliance between Cardassia and the Dominion. The influence of the Council waned again as Dukat became supreme ruler of Cardassia in the Dominion's name. When Dukat went mad and disappeared from public view his aide, Gul Damar, assumed his position. Damar turned against the Dominion and was killed fighting to overthrow them.
After the Dominion War was over, a new Detapa Council was formed from the surviving members, plus capable Cardassian citizens. Some retired Cardassian legates returned to the homeworld to offer their wisdom and assistance in the rebuilding process. The Council now seeks to build a newer, stronger Cardassia and to put aside the mistakes of the past.
The Detapa Council traditionally has twenty members (and one chairman), although the Council has allowed some seats to remain vacant at times in the past. Members of the Council have all achieved the position of legate in Cardassian society, allowing them to be entrusted with the public welfare. The law restricts the number of Central Command officials on the Council to no more than five. Despite this, Central Command was able to exercise near complete control over the Council through their influence in nearly every other aspect of Cardassian life, particularly with the aid and cooperation of the Obsidian Order. Now, with the overthrow of Central Command and the end of the Dominion War, many of the civilian members of the Council are reasserting their authority.
Vasala is the concept of making beneficial relationships with people in power. First Marriages are considered part of vasala. In most cases vasala is a symbiotic relationship between the two parties, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” or more accurately, “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”. This concept dates back to the early days of the Union when the first Council members came from different nations, each nation would have their own interests, and council member would support this interest in the council. But they would also have their own personal interests, such as being from military background, so this would influence their vote. This collection of interests was the Councillor’s vasala.
Now days vasala, though pretty much the same, has been expanded to include relationships made with powerful people. A Councillor might offer to vote a certain way on a vote for a high ranking military official if that official promotes the Councillor’s son. This practice is common place in Cardassian politics.
By Cardassian law, members of the Detapa Council are elected to their positions by a vote of the general populace. Five seats on the Council are up for election every two years, theoretically resulting in a complete change in council membership every eight years. In practice, however, there is no limit to the number of terms a member may serve on the Council, and many members serve ten, fifteen, or even twenty terms before they choose to retire.
Although Council elections are conducted by popular vote, the voting is heavily influenced by the candidates' vasala, particularly their connections with important organizations like Central Command and the Obsidian Order. In the past, Central Command (working through the Council) nominated candidates, which the people then voted on. So long as Central Command controlled nominations, they were ensured of Council members who would maintain the status quo.
The concept of "political parties" as they existed on Earth and other planets is foreign to the Cardassians. Each candidate's vasala forms his or her own "party" to offer support and secure votes, but vasala is considerably more personal and interconnected than a political party. Cardassian politics, like most of Cardassian society, is replete with trading favors and secret alliances. As is often the case with democratic politics, Cardassian elections were often more of a popularity contest than any true measure of the candidates' ability to do the job.
With the weakening of the Central Command and the Obsidian Order, free elections on Cardassia promise to be quite interesting in the future. Potential councillors are already gathering support through their vasalas, while current members of the council work to protect their positions. Some political analysts are already citing concerns that Cardassian politicians are more interested in protecting their jobs than working together to rebuild Cardassia and the Union.
The Prefect or Council Chairman
The Detapa Council selects one of its members to act as the head of the Council and Supreme Prefect of the Cardassian Union. The Prefect runs Council meetings and serves as a tie-breaking vote. He is also the Supreme Commander of the Cardassian military, for generations, the Prefect of the Union was always a member of Central Command and a military officer. The military would not follow a civilian Prefect and it was well known among the Council that such an election would lead to an outright military coup. In order to keep their power and position, the Council always elected one of its military members as Prefect.
After the Omarion Nebula incident, popular support swung away from Central Command, and the civilian members of the Detapa Council seized the opportunity to further weaken the military's grip on the government. Unfortunately, the Klingon Empire took their uncharacteristic act of defiance as proof the civilian members of the Council were actually disguised changeling infiltrators. This provoked the Klingon invasion of Cardassian space, and forced the Detapa Council to flee Cardassia Prime to avoid capture and execution.
Since the end of the Dominion War, the Detapa Council proceeded more carefully. Ironically, Legate Damar would have been assured the position of Prefect, despite his military background, had he survived the rebellion against the Dominion.
The Detapa Council controls the legislative and executive power of the Cardassian government. The Council drafts and passes legislation, sees to the enforcement of laws, raises and distributes money for the operation of the government, controls the Cardassian economy, and sees to the defence of the Union. Although the Council has considerable power according to the letter of the law, it has been largely impotent for centuries. Most of the Council's edicts were dictated entirely by Central Command.
Councillors can draft and propose legislation before the Council. Any new legislation is debated and considered among the members, with the sponsoring Councillor speaking first. In the case of legislation already approved or denied by Central Command, this process was largely for show; the decision was already made. Currently, debate is a vital part of the Council's operation, and some of the issues surrounding the reconstruction of Cardassia are hotly debated.
By law, the Council and the Supreme Prefect exercise control over Central Command and the Obsidian Order. Again, in practice things were quite different. Central Command and the Obsidian Order split most governmental power between them, leaving the Detapa Council as puppets to carry out their wishes. The Order left day-to-day matters in the hands of Central Command, but got whatever it wanted when it did choose to exercise its influence. After the Omarion Nebula incident, the power of the Order weakened considerably. Central Command tried to tighten its control over the populace, leading to a backlash against the military.
Presently, the Detapa Council retains its power over the military and the Obsidian Order in theory, but the matter is considerably more complex in reality. Vasala is more important than ever, with the most powerful factions and individuals in Cardassian society working to gather support for their personal agendas. While the Council is no longer a puppet of other factions, its power is by no means unchallenged. Forces within the military and the espionage community look toward returning things to the way they were before the Omarion Nebula incident, while forward-thinkers and reformers try to concentrate power in civilian hands.
For most matters, the Detapa Council requires only a simple majority vote.
In day-to-day matters, the Council Prefect holds executive power, including command over the military. The majority of the Prefect's decisions are later ratified by the Council. When the Central Command dominated the Council, nearly all its votes were rubber stamps on the decisions of the military Prefect. Now many Councillors prefer to limit the Prefect's powers out of fear of abuse, although most agree the Prefect must remain able to make decisions for the good of the Cardassian people. Overturning a decision of the Prefect requires a two-thirds majority of the Council, and the Prefect gets to vote, so such vetoes are rare.
The Cardassian government has its own titles for officials. A prefect governs a colony or client world. A legate is a high-ranked official in the Cardassian government, while the higher ranks require membership in the Central Command or a position on the Detapa Council.
- Colony/Subjugated World Leader – Prefect
- High Ranked Official – Legate
- Member of the Central Command – Legate
- Member of the Detapa Council – Councillor
- Head of the Detapa Council/Prefect of the Cardassian Union – Chairman
Ministers of the Council
The Detapa Council and the Prefect delegate much of the daily operation of the Cardassian government to a variety of ministries, each headed by a minister. Ministers are appointed by the Council, and may be dismissed at their pleasure. Like most of Cardassian politics, their appointments and dismissals are largely decided by vasala. The Ministers generally report directly to the Prefect, who in turn presents their reports to the Detapa Council. Ministers advise the Prefect on matters concerning the Cardassian Union, and often have considerable influence because of this. There are dozens of ministries, some acting under the guidance of others. The most important ministries are detailed here.
The Ministry of Defense is nominally in charge of the Cardassian military, at least from a budgetary and oversight standpoint. Of course, this has not actually been the case for centuries. Central Command assigned a senior or retired officer the position of Defense Minister as a reward for years of loyal service, and the job was widely known as a "comfortable retirement position" requiring almost no work. In the past century or so, the Central Command dispensed with even the pretence of reporting its actions to the Ministry of Defense, the entire office was little more than a sham.
Since the end of the Dominion War, the position of Defense Minister is a hotly contested one. The current Minister, Legate Joban, is an "old guard" Cardassian officer. There is considerable call to replace him with a civilian minister, to ensure the military does not get out of hand. However, there is concern that a civilian will not have the respect of the military, and fear of a military coup if the Central Command is marginalized too much. Joban, suddenly finding himself holding real power, is doing his best to walk the line between the two camps.
Ministry of the Economy
The Ministry of the Economy values currency, oversees trade negotiations and commerce treaties, sets interest rates and currency exchange, and performs economic forecasts and analyses for the Detapa Council.
The ministry served as a scapegoat for many of Cardassia's ills in the wake of the Dominion War. Damage to the Union's economy is laid across the ministry's doorstep, despite the fact it had little or no say in the policies of Central Command, or the Dominion. The Council is conducting a purge of personnel in the ministry, and only those with the strongest vasala weathered the storm unscathed. They ended forming the core of a new Economic Ministry, charged with the herculean task of rebuilding the Cardassian Union's shattered economy and establishing trade relations with other powers in the Alpha Quadrant, which remain suspicious of Cardassia.
The Ministry of Internal Security, or simply the Security Ministry, has long been a puppet of the Obsidian Order. The ministry's duties involve enforcing the law and maintaining public order. In practice, they served as a public arm of the Order, conducting searches and interrogations, surveillance of suspected troublemakers, arrests of known or suspected criminals, and so forth. Members of Internal Security often played the role of honest and harried public officials, encouraging criminal suspects to cooperate with them, rather than being turned over to the "tender mercies" of the Obsidian Order. The ministry is riddled with undercover agents of the Order, keeping watch over the watchers themselves.
When the Omarion Nebula incident weakened the Obsidian Order, Internal Security gained in power. Under the Dominion, they cooperated with the Jem'Hadar to enforce the Dominion's laws, but by end of the war Internal Security officers turned against the Dominion en masse rather than turn their weapons on their own people. Their assistance greatly aided the rebellion in ousting the Dominion from Cardassia Prime.
Currently, Internal Security and the Obsidian Order exist in an uneasy symbiotic relationship. The ministry still fears the Order's influence, but it has considerably more power of its own. For its part, the Obsidian Order needs Internal Security to serve as a front-organization, and is doing what it can to re-establish its control over the ministry.
Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice oversees the interpretation of Cardassian law, and the application of those laws in civil and criminal proceedings. Cardassian jurists are referred to as archons, and the Supreme Archon is also Minister of Justice.
For generations, the Ministry of Justice operated largely as another arm of Central Command. Trials were little more than a formality, since Central Command handed down verdicts, and sentences, in advance. A trial only served to publicly confirm them.
Currently, the Ministry of Justice is a strong influence for reform on Cardassia Prime. Some archons are actually exercising their judicial power to help ensure only the guilty are punished, and that the laws of the Union are upheld, but most serve to continue with the status quo.
Public Health & Culture
The Ministry of Public Health & Culture oversees the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the Cardassian people. De-emphasized almost to the point of non-existence under Central Command, this ministry is being revived and given greater priority by the new government.
Under Central Command, the ministry had little or no funding, and was primarily concerned with maintaining public health, and distributing propaganda approved by Central Command. The ministry made do with whatever resources it could pull together. Its physicians and councillors worked long hours for little pay, leading to considerable apathy and mistreatment of those under their care. Members of the Ministry of Health often harboured sympathies for the Dissident movement, while many others are outright members of it. They seek social and health care reforms as part of their new goals.
Associate ministers working in the Culture department of the ministry are some of the best-educated, and least-heeded, members of Cardassian society. They continue to study fragments of Cardassia's ancient culture, literature, art, and music, both to learn more about the history of their society and in hopes of reviving some of the Cardassian's cultural achievements.
Ministry of Science
The Ministry of Science is concerned with scientific research and the development of new technologies. Like the other ministries, it functioned as little more than an arm of Central Command during the military rule of Cardassia. The ministry's prime tasks involved the development of new military technology like weapons and shields, as well as research with potential military applications, such as the study of the Bajoran orbs.
It might have been the influence of the orbs, or simply the high level of education among the scientists, but the Ministry of Science had long been a bastion of the Dissident reform movement. Scientists in the ministry chaffed under the rule of Central Command, and longed for opportunities to collaborate with their Federation counterparts, working on pure research rather than military applications. Some sought to further the position of science in Cardassian culture, while others merely wanted to end the military domination of the Union.
Since the end of the Dominion War, the Ministry of Science is little better off than before. The Detapa Council cannot afford to devote resources to scientific research when the Union has more pressing economic and social needs. Ironically, this has split the ministry between support for a civilian government and those who fondly recall the military government where they were, if not appreciated, at least well-funded.
Originally, a sub-ministry of Economy, Allocation was elevated to full Ministry status after the Gharva Riots of 2348 on Cardassia Prime. In an empire where resources are scarce, their careful allocation is a matter of some priority. Officials called lexors handle resource allocation on the regional or planetary level, working closely with the military. Allocation was so closely overseen by Central Command that many officers joked it was the civilian branch of the military. Allocation's vast influence and close ties with Central Command encouraged corruption and influence-peddling among lexors seeking to increase their vasala. It also created a vast black market for goods throughout the Union.
With the fall of Central Command and the Dominion withdrawal, Allocation is coming under considerable scrutiny from the Detapa Council. The Union's resources are stretched extremely thin, and its survival may depend on their proper allocation and distribution. Many lexors are trying to cover up misappropriation of resources and secure their positions in the new regime.
The Cardassian Information Service was little more then a propaganda machine for Central Command. It disseminated pro-state information to the people, and was responsible for the broadcasting of Trials.
In later years following the Dominion War, the Information Service was the first Ministry to be completely restaffed. It now acts more independent of the government, and its reports are less propagandist. Though they are still pro-state, their Correspondents are beginning to be viewed negatively by the population for their hardline reports, and their investigative skills are coming under scrutiny from the Obsidian Order.
The Cardassian concept of vasala extends to the local government as well. Local government authorities, such as planetary and colonial governors, are known as prefects. A prefect is supported by an extensive bureaucracy that handles the day-to-day matters of governing, including representatives from the major ministries of the Cardassian government.
Most of the ministries are notorious for their lack of cooperation with each other, so prefects often spend considerable time building relationships (vasala again) with ministers and bureaucrats in order to get things done. Of course, the majority of prefects in the Cardassian Union are also military officers, so they had the authority of Central Command backing them up. With the Detapa Council currently in power, it is likely they will appoint more civilian prefects to administer the reconstruction effort throughout the Union.
The Cardassian Union has had many alliances and treaties over its history. The major ones are listed here.
- United Federation of Planets: The Cardassian Union has had a long a varied relationship with the Federation, ranging from war to alliance. What treaties the future will bring remains to be seen.
- The Klingon Empire: The Klingons have had little or no relationship with the Cardassians, until the Detapa Council started a coup, and took over control of the Union from Central Command. The Klingons saw this as the Cardassian Union being under the control of the Dominion, and declared war. Following the Breen’s state of unrest, the Klingons and Cardassians sign a mutual defence treaty.
- The Romulan Star Empire: The only relationship between the Cardassians and the Romulans had been the failed joint attack on the Founder’s Homeworld, orchestrated by the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order.
- The Ferengi Alliance: For a long-time the Ferengi Alliance has been barred entering Cardassian Space, and no trade from the Ferengi has been allowed to enter the Union. Recently though some trade has been allowed, but only through middle men dealers.
- The Breen Confederacy: Cardassia had no relationship with the Breen until the Dominion War, when the Dominion signed an alliance with the Breen, forcing the Cardassians and Breen to work alongside each other. Recently the Breen have gone back to their isolationistic ways.
- The Dominion: The Dominion of the Gamma Quadrant has been allied with the Cardassian Union twice, and both times have been devastating to the Cardassian Union and its people.
- The Maquis: Prior to the Dominion War, the Maquis were a painful and annoying thorn to the Cardassian Union, through their guerrilla and terrorist activities they serious damaged or destroyed a large number of military and civilian property.
- The Bajorans: The relationship the Federation has had with the Cardassians hasn’t been nearly as long as they one the Cardassians have had with the Bajorans. With the Bajoran homeworld little over 3 light years from Cardassia Prime, it was one of the first planets to be annexed by the Union. Later and peace treaty between the two peoples was signed.
- The Demilitarized Zone: The Demilitarized Zone gave birth to the Maquis, but has been more then just a haven for terrorists.
- The Trade Federation: Through this trade treaty the Cardassian come into formal contact with the Federation, the Klingons, Romulans, Kzinti, Orions, Tamarians, Gorn, the Tholians and the Hydrans.
- The United Confederation of Interstellar Planets: Even though they were part of the original inception of what would become the UCIP, the Cardassians were forcibly expelled from the UCIP when they again signed an alliance with the Dominion, and sent spies among the UCIP and started a terrorist organization to disrupt the UCIP. Recently the UCIP and Cardassian relations have improved with the UCIP’s first joint fleet, the United Confederation Fleet offering for the Cardassians to join.
The Cardassian approach to justice is radically different then that favoured by Federation worlds. Cardassians have absolute faith in their investigators, and maintain that only the guilty are ever arrested and brought to trial.
On Cardassia Prime a trial is intended only to demonstrate how the offender’s guilt was determined. Thus the purpose of the trial is not to establish facts – these are already known, and cannot be disputed – but to provide an educational experience for the populace, so trials are broadcast throughout Cardassia.
It is important to understand that, the Cardassian mind, the needs of the state outweigh the needs of the individual. The Cardassians believe that only a strong state can provide the necessary structure, security, and stability needed to safeguard the populace. It is a common assertion that “the survival of state is the survival of the people.”
A good trial demonstrates that the Cardassian state is not only always right, but is strong enough to capture and punish all offenders.
Some Cardassians will admit that under their system it is possible an innocent person may be punished, but they maintain that this is of little consequence. Confessing – even to a crime one did not commit – is seen as a last act of service to the state. The innocent Cardassian who is brought to trial recognizes this, and as a result confessions are often forthcoming.
The procedure ensures that when a person is arrested, his or her fate has already been decided. The accused is treated with little respect. While awaiting trial, prisoners are held in the central prison. When they arrive, they are instructed to remove their clothes; if they do not cooperate, these are removed by force. They are given the opportunity to make a confession at once, if they refuse they are processed. This involves taking a retinal scan and several DNA samples, including hair.
Prisoners are then issued with new clothing and confined to a cell. Trials are often arranged quickly, sometimes within two days of the arrest. The trial itself rarely lasts more than a day, and the punishment, often execution, is normally scheduled for the following week; the execution date is posted before the trial itself begins – yet another fine example Cardassian efficiency.
The offender is assigned a Public Conservator, who acts on their behalf. The Conservator will visit the defendant in prison and try to persuade him or her to confess. The Cardassians place great value on a confession; they have an old expression, “confession is good for the soul”. They also believe that it is good for the people to see criminals confess. To see justice triumph yet again makes them feel better about themselves and makes their lives more bearable. However, a Conservator may be pleased if a defendant refuses to confess at once or displays contempt for the court, since this will make for a better ‘show’.
It is standard procedure for Cardassians to use torture in their interrogation of prisoners; this increases the likelihood that the prisoner will make an appropriate confession.
The only ‘friend’, other than the Conservator, who is permitted to visit the defendant in prison, is the Nestor. This person is allowed to advise the defendant and must be an officer or the Cardassian court (or appointed by the court). The Nestor is allowed to attend the trial, but has no right to speak to anyone other then the offender. The offender’s family is also allowed to attend the trial; in fact, the court encourage their participation, because they believe it is good for the audience to see them crying.
The offender, his or her family is not informed of the crime of which the defendant is accused before the trial begins, and the court does not reveal what evidence will be presented during the trial.
The Cardassian court does not use the adversarial system. The judge, or Archon, who pronounces sentence without the aid of a jury, also acts as the prosecutor, and the Conservator makes no attempt to contradict any evidence he or she may introduce.
The Archon begins the trial by announcing the defendant’s crime and the sentence that has been decided upon. When the trial begins, the offender is offered the chance to confess.
The offender is not allowed to introduce any new evidence whatsoever. Under the Cardassian judicial system, no evidence can be submitted once the verdict has been reached, and the always happens before the trial begins.
During the trial, the Archon calls a number of witnesses who provide evidence of the offender’s guilt. The standards of proof required are not high, and unsubstantiated claims and hearsay are admissible forms of evidence.
The Conservator’s role is not to defend the offender, but to speak eloquently to the court and the offender. The mission of the Conservator is specifically to help the offender concede to the wisdom of the state and to prepare him or her to accept the inevitable guilty verdict. Once a confession has been signed, it is displayed for the citizens to read.
Offenders are required to testify, and when they do so, the Conservator will attempt to persuade them to show remorse for their crimes and to make a confession. The offender does not have the right to decline to answer any questions though he or she is encouraged to offer reasons why they have turned to crime.
The Archon does have the right to alter the sentence, though it is almost unheard of. Even if it happens, it is extremely unlikely that the Archon will question the offender’s guilt.
In recent times, some Archons have taken to withholding the verdict till after the trial allowing evidence to be entered in to attempt to clear the offenders’ name. And the sentence is also withheld till after the trial is completed. These Archon new interpretations of the law have met with mixed reactions, many Cardassians see it as an affront to the power and order of the state. But some, mostly former dissidents see it as the future of Cardassian Justice.
The planet of Cardassia Prime was first colonised by an ancient race known as the First Hebetians. Their burial mounds were uncovered in the late 2160s but these magnificent relics were ransacked after the modern Cardassian society become militant when the planet's natural resources began to run out.
First contact between the Cardassians and Bajor occurred in the 16th century. Using lightships, Bajoran explorers managed to traverse the space between Bajor and Cardassia Prime. In recent times, Cardassia has denied the story.
As Cardassian civilisation developed the society's heavy demands on the planet's natural resources began to strip it bare. The culture turned to war and conquered numerous worlds in the name of survival and national pride.
The Modern Cardassian Union
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