NEW CRIMES, NEW VICTIMS, HUMAN RIGHTS VIS-À-VIS THE EXISTING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.


Rajendra Dhar
POLICE WATCH INDIA (Regd. NGO)

More recently, the entire rights issue has been complicated by an upsurge of less traditional crimes, which has brought with it new classes of victims.

Such offences as consumer frauds, economic frauds, property related frauds, over charging, adulteration, environmental pollution and rampant corruption victimize large groups of people, rather than individuals. Trafficking in illicit drugs, many forms of racketeering and fraud against the State have been called “victimless crimes”. All organized crimes should compulsorily be booked & tried under MOCOCA.

Even when the victims are clearly visible, such as those caught up in trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour, child abuse, frauds by builders etc., a new set of rights may be needed. Both victims and offenders may be trapped in foreign countries, stymied by language problems, cultural differences and other obstacles hindering their rights.

Trafficked women or migrant victims of smuggling rings may feel particularly threatened, since they could be treated as illegal prostitutes and/or immigrants and denied protection or other victims’ services. Because of their illegal status, victims may be afraid to report any crimes against them to law enforcers.

In some countries, legal authorities may give key witnesses immunity. This boosts the chances of a successful prosecution, which would itself deter illegal trafficking.

Promising immunity may not be enough, however, for victims or witnesses of organized crime who fear retaliation if they testify. Some nations have set up witness protection programmes, which may offer new identities after the trial, but these are costly. Experimenting with less expensive methods, such as anonymous testimony, is urgently needed.

Presently the HUMAN RIGHTS are heavily loaded in favour of the offenders/criminals which are acting against humanity at large as they are leading to lesser & lesser convictions thereby endangering the already fragile fabric of civilized living.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS AROUND THE WORLD VARY, BUT MANY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS FOR OFFENDERS:

Rights of offenders: 
The right not to be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, search or seizure;
The right to counsel;
The presumption of innocence;
The standard of proof;
The right to a public trial by an independent court;
The right to test the prosecution evidence;
The right to give and call evidence;
The right to appeal.

ALTHOUGH THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AGREED IN THE 1985 UN VICTIMS’ DECLARATION ON THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS FOR VICTIMS BUT THE SAME ARE YET TO BE IMPLEMENTED BY MOST OF THE COUNTRIES INCLUDING INDIA:

Rights of victims:
The right to be treated with respect and recognition;
The right to be referred to adequate support services;
The right to receive information about the progress of the case;
The right to be present and give input to the decision-making;
The right to counsel;
The right to protection of physical safety and privacy;
The right to compensation both from the offender and the State.

WHAT THE CRIME VICTIMS HAVE TO SAY – IN BRIEF:

“I was the victim, not the State! Why didn’t anyone consult me?”

“When I became a victim, I believed in justice but awoke to the reality of crime, rights of criminals and injustice for victims.”

“To be a victim is an unforgettable nightmare but to become a victim at the hands of the criminal justice system is an unforgivable travesty.”

“Somewhere along the way, the criminal justice system began to serve lawyers, judges and defendants. Victims are treated with institutionalised disinterest. The neglect of crime victims is a national disgrace.”

“How can justice be obtained by hearing “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” when the victims or surviving victims’ families are not heard?”

“Now is the time to restore balance to the criminal justice system.”

“Our forefathers would be amazed to learn that in these days, criminal defendants have not only the rights outlined in the constitution, but a myriad of other procedural protections which have tipped the scales of justice drastically out of balance.”

“In the prevailing Criminal Justice System victims of crime are the only losers.”

“Since the victim was routinely present and heard during criminal trials in that day, the Constitutional authors likely saw no need to include rights for victims.”

Everybody should understand the ground reality that “anybody & everybody” can be “a victim of crime” at times irrespective of any cause, reason, consideration etc.

However keeping in view the changing crime scenario, if we really want to curb crime & control criminals as well as people having criminal tendencies we will have to do away with the dictum that “THE ACCUSED IS INNOCENT TILL PROVED GUILTY” especially in cases where prima facie evidence against the accused is available on record.

AND punishment should be according to the seriousness of the crime committed irrespective of age and/or any other consideration. AS WELL AS implementation of all laws should be UNISEX IN NATURE & CONTENT.

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