News 21.6.2017 06:00 am

Decriminalise victimless crimes, says Free Market Foundation

Picture: iStock

Picture: iStock

The foundation says victimless crimes include prostitution, some traffic offences and dealing in drugs.

A strong call has been made to decriminalise “victimless crimes” to free up law enforcement agencies to focus on situations where people’s rights and property are criminally violated.

The Free Market Foundation (FMF) is also calling for the discretionary powers of government officials that are an incentive for corruption to be restricted. The foundation also lambasted the appointment of judges on the basis they are “progressive” or advocate social change because that interferes with judicial independence.

The FMF described victimless crimes as those acts or omissions criminalised by government despite there being no complainant. It said victimless crimes included prostitution, some traffic offences, dealing in drugs and contravening exchange regulations. The organisation asked for those crimes to be abolished.

These are distinguished from victimisation crimes, where an individual’s rights are criminally violated.

According to the FMF, pursuing victimless crimes wastes police time and prevents them from fighting real criminals.

“Police resources are under pressure. One way to alleviate this is to stop wasting time and resources pursuing value-subjective crimes where no individual rights have been violated and allow the police to focus on real crimes against persons and property,” the FMF said.

It believed that some traffic regulations were often arbitrary and sometimes unknown to motorists. Seeking help for drug abuse and prostitution led to innocent citizens being deemed criminals.

The FMF said incentives that lead to corruption, such as discretionary powers by officials, must be stopped by introducing strict criteria in the exercise of that power. It cited rampant abuse of discretionary powers in the granting or withholding of contracts, licences, protection, subsidies and other privileges as the causes of real or suspected corruption.

“The only way to get ‘money out of politics’ is to get politics out of money first, and ensure officials are bound by strict and unambiguous criteria in the exercise of their powers.”

The FMF said judges’ appointments must not be politicised.

“This is dangerous and contrary to the rule of law.

“An independent judiciary is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy … In this instance ‘progressive’ means the judiciary must favour government action in economic and social affairs rather than emphasising individual rights.”

 

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