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Equivalent Western challenges


Misapplication of International Legal Norms in Socially Abnormal Situations (Part #4)


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It is appropriate to note that in many Western countries confidence in the processes of law enforcement and regulatory procedures have been severely eroded by numerous cases of bribery, fraud and miscarriage of justice -- from local government up to ministerial level. Several countries have been faced with indictment of 3 or 4 government ministers from a single cabinet, even including attorney generals. The case of Italy has been an extreme example. Whilst the fact that these cases have been publicized, forcing ministers to resign and face inquiries, is a very positive indicator of a system endeavouring to heal itself, there is widespread suspicion that the publicized cases are merely the tip of an iceberg of unknown dimensions -- as debate over the 'public sleaze' scandals in the UK has illustrated.

Confidence in the rule of law in the West is further eroded by failure of enforcement processes and regulatory procedures. These range from inability, or unwillingness of police to conduct investigations or protect private citizens, through to creative abuse of legal procedures by the wealthy. Bribery of regulatory inspectors is widely acknowledged. Repeal or non-enforcement of inconvenient laws (notably in the case of the environment) is increasingly noted. The backlog of unprocessed cases, even in the European Court of Human Rights, is making justice an extremely elusive and expense concept.

Whilst it may be argued that the fact that inquiries are conducted into such inadequacies is a very positive sign of respect for the law, the fact that many such cases are dropped, or abandoned for a variety of reasons (parliamentary immunity, insufficient evidence, court costs, 'technicalities', delays, etc), is not. There is increasing suspicion that legal procedures are being manipulated for the benefit of those with the power or wealth enabling them to do so. Those cases that are publicized are seen as a sop to public opinion -- a view often confirmed by indicted politicians who see themeselves as having acted 'normally' and as having been unfairly singled out as scapegoats or as an act of political revenge.