Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An affront to justice

Collective punishment is the idea of punishing third parties for crimes in which they had no part. In times of war, it is recognised as a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, here is no prohibition against it in international law in times of peace, because it is so patently unjust as to be unthinkable in any justice system worthy of the name.

National wants to introduce it to our legal system:

The parents or guardians of young people before the courts could have bail conditions imposed on them as well as their children, such as not drinking alcohol and having to reside at a particular address, under a private members' bill in the name of Northland MP Mike Sabin.


The Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Parent's and Guardian's Responsibility) Amendment Bill would allow the Youth Court to set bail conditions for parents and guardians in a bid to prevent re-offending.

Mr Sabin believed at least half of the responsibility for youth offending was down to adults making sure their children were being properly supervised.

Mr Sabin's bills have been approved by the National Party caucus for support at first reading should any be drawn from the ballot.

[Emphasis added. If the caucus approves it, they don't get to hide behind it being a Member's Bill]

Of course, in practice, this will only apply to poor parents. Rich parents will be able to afford lawyers able to argue the fundamental injustice of punishing them for the actions of another. And they'll know to game the system by refusing to sign bail authorisations which attempt to impose such conditions on them - thus presenting the court with the choice of removing the odious conditions, or unlawfully imprisoning a child (faced with such a decision, a court would be forced to apply the UNCROC principle that the best interests of the child are paramount, and vary the conditions so as to enable their release). Not that a court ever would attempt to impose such conditions on wealthy parents - because Everyone Knows that when their kids commit crimes, its an "aberration", rather than a reflection of bad parenting which must be corrected with state force.

Naturally, the "Sensible" Sentencing Trust approves - which tells you all you need to know.

This is a fundamentally unjust bill. But National doesn't care about justice - all they care about is grubbing "tough on crime" votes by kicking people. And the more defenceless, the better.