Martial law refers to a state wherein a particular country or region is under military rule or power. In extreme instances like massive riots, protests, and wars for example, some governments may be forced to use military power over the entire country or a particular district in order to restore peace and order. In most cases, martial law is only imposed in very rare occasions and when there is a great need only like in times of war. During these desperate times, the civilian government in place may not be able to function fully and effectively and thereby requiring the takeover by military forces.
In the case of massive protests, riots, and disorganization among the masses, many governments may be forced to declare some kind of state of emergency. In this way, military rule or martial law may be imposed on an entire city or country for example. At the time the martial law is imposed, people will be subjected to military rule for the purpose of security or restoration of order and peace. In some cases, a particular civilian government may be able to function effectively with the help of the police force. In cases where the rioting or massive fighting escalates, martial law may be the only way for governments to protect other people and promote peace and security. Insurgencies and plots against the existing government may also prompt high officials to declare martial law.
During martial law, many so-called people’s rights will be limited or curtailed in order to promote order, peace, and security. Different rules and guidelines apply to different governments. Some governments impose curfews and bans on public protests and similar activities. There are also some cases wherein people suspected of being part of a massive riot or plot against the government are imprisoned without proper trial. In many countries, only the President or head of state can declare martial law. In some countries, the senate or congress are also given powers to declare martial law when needed.