Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg

Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg
Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg © Gernot Keller, 2007
Blinkered Justice articles also appear on CrimeTalk and Government In The Lab

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Desistance and recidivism: the Sky News and Jordanian government model

It seems that Sky News and the Jordanian government have alerted us to new strategies in the fight against recidivism and desistance. It is so brilliant and simple, and I wonder why the criminal justice system has not adopted it wholesale before now. 

No need to ponder whether community-based punishments or prison programmes are best at reducing re-offending rates. The answer is simple; listen to those who are guilty of former crimes (i.e. phone hacking, torture) say they will not commit these, or other, crimes again, and accept it.  

Well, that is more or less what Head of News at Sky News, John Ryley told the Leveson inquiry yesterday (above). He thinks "it is highly unlikely in the future that Sky will consider breaking the law". When pressed further on his lack of overt support for the law, he added that he was "pretty much ruling it out". Now imagine if someone who burgled houses for a living responded in a similar manner in a court of law. 

Whilst I note that Ofcom have started an investigation into Sky's admission of two counts of email hacking, let us not forget that this is a criminal, not civil, offence. Sky News have fallen foul of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

Using honesty as a tool to divert any guilt, Ryley admits that he was not as aware of these Acts as he should have been. Given that he will have been aware of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire's criminal activities, surely Ryley, obviously not an unintelligent man, could have then made the fairly obvious connection between phone hacking and email hacking. 

Falun Gong practitioner tortured by guards in a labour camp in China
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Similarly, the UK government has accepted that the government of Jordan will not use evidence obtained through torture in any case against Abu Qatada. Yet Jordan regularly tortures and detains people based on evidence gained through torture. The latest Human Rights Watch report states:

Perpetrators of torture enjoy near-total impunity. The redress process begins with a deficient complaint mechanism, continues with lackluster investigations and prosecutions, and ends in police court, where two of three judges are police-appointed police officers. 

Would the UK government accept similar reassurances from China if it was returning a an illegal immigrant Falun Gong practitioner? Regardless of the innocence or guilt of the fictional Falun Gong practitioner, if the UK is truly a civilised society and a respected guardian of global human rights, we should not be returning anyone to face a trial overseas where torture and abuse of  human rights is so intrinsically linked to justice.

We try and detain illegal immigrants for crimes committed in the UK. We have the means to try Qatada here. We choose not to. 

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