"The biggest miscarriage of justice"

Submitted by AWL on 28 June, 2002 - 11:57

Tony Blair reckons the "biggest miscarriage of justice in today's system is when the guilty walk away unpunished". An arguable position, especially if like the Birmingham Six you are innocent and lose 16 years of your life (or even die in prison) due to police fit-ups.

"The days of the old hobby horses about the police and how they treated people, the days of believing the whole issue is simply around how we give better protection to defendants - I believe those have changed."
So we can look forward to Tony energetically prosecuting and pushing for maximum sentences for those responsible for the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane (as revealed in Panorama). And Tony will surely want Brigadier Gordon Kerr, former head of the secret Force Research Unit (FRU) which directed Loyalist death squads to Republican targets, to get the punishment due to him.

He could follow the lead of Vicente Fox, not a notable softie on human rights. The Mexican Government has opened millions of secret security files to shed light on human rights abuses of the past. The files, covering cases from more than four decades up to 1985, include documents related to the torture and killing by security forces of hundreds of political activists.

He'll need to be sure it doesn't backfire, though, with the paramilitaries demanding back pay from the FRU. In Guatemala, fighters demanding 20,000 Quetzals ($2,500) each for their participation in the so-called Civil Defence Patrols, have blockaded the airport serving the Mayan ruins at Tikal. The Civil Defence Patrols were responsible for the ruin and massacre of thousands of Mayan villagers during the civil war.

No boundaries to justice
Tony recognises no boundaries to justice, as his anti-terrorist jaunts will testify. Perhaps the fearless crime fighter can look into 223 cases of murdered or "disappeared" trade unionists in 2001, reported by the ICFTU.
Cases like:

  • In Colombia, where over 200 trade unionists were assassinated or reported missing in 2001, amounting to a 25% rise in murders and disappearances compared to 2000, unionists from the public services have been the hardest hit, suffering about 65% of the violations, particularly as a result of their determined stance in political talks on fiscal adaptations and privatisation;
  • The General Secretary of the Jatiyo Sramik union, Iqbal Majumber, was shot dead when leaving his office. He was a pioneer within the union movement in Bangladesh and at the forefront of the struggle against privatisation and deregulation.
  • When trying to set up a union in a textile factory in Pakistan in June 2001, Naddem Dar was intercepted by the owner of the factory. When he refused to give up his plans, despite being threatened at gunpoint, he was tortured. To force the other union leaders to resign, the management threatened to relocate the factory and to hire hit-men to deal with any "recalcitrant elements".

Fat Cat World Cup - now for the good news

The number of wealthy people in the world who have more than $1m (£700,000) in "free" assets has increased by 200,000 to 7.1 million, according to the annual wealth report published yesterday by consultants Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and investment bank Merrill Lynch.

A rise in the number of "super rich" was matched by the growth in their combined wealth by 3% to $26.2 trillion (£18.3 trillion). The number of ultra-rich individuals with more than $30m of financial assets grew by 2.6% to 57,000 last year.

Outside the G7 countries the average wealth of high net worth individuals rose by 4.7%, compared to 1.9% in the G7. See, don't say globalisation only benefits the "developed" world.

The number of people living in extreme poverty in the least developed countries is greater than had previously been thought. A UN study calculates that 307 million people live on less than a dollar a day, a number which is set to rise to 420 million over the next decade and a half.

None of the 49 least developed countries is on track to meet the target of halving the number ofthe world's population that live on less than a dollar a day by 2015. I wonder why.

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