Is Anyone Above the Law? Is it Prosecution or Correction We Most Need To Recover From Crimes That Affect So Many?
Is a process of truth, reconcilitaion and correction preferable to prosecution of wrong doing where the wrong doing has affected millions?
Two recent events in the public eye bring this questions to mind. (1)Obama undoubtedly at the urging of the Fed discouraged States from undertaking investigations and prosecution for bank frauds on behalf of consumers in favor of a settlement that would exempt banks from criminal liability and somehow reimburse injured consumers.As far as I know the deal does not include any substantial reform and does not include anything like "truth and reconciliation". As a board member of a bank regulatory agency for 10 years I understandthat a key function of Bank regulatory agencies is to maintain public confidence in the safety and soundness of banks. Corrections were undertaken discretely out of the public eye. But what happens when the very institutions charged with maintaining. a system worthy of trust and public confidence fails.? Does prsecution bring needed change? Are settlements with immunity from criminal liability justice? Does it bring abaout change?
(2) Although the Catholic Church World wide has struggled for decades with revelations and allegations of sexual abuse of parishioner children , a current effort by a reputable Human Rights Group to hold Pope Benedict to account in International Criminal Court could create a moral crisis throughout Christendom if the court were able to take the case ( which it may not be able to do) Is a public trial of a Pope the answer or is there greater public interest served by internal transformations that involve the public in a process of healing and restructuring?
Human Rights Watch has complained that the International Criminal Court ( established in 2002) has tended to avoid cases involving heads of state and government officials.
Mandela chose a course of moral correction and accountability over trials. When is that model the best course?
Closing Statement from Lindsay Newland Bowker
When we think of criminal activity affecting thousands of people systematically and continuously over many years we normally think of the mafia or drug cartels. We don’t think of the largest Christian organization in the world. We don’t think of our banking system, our financial markets, our own central bank, our bank regulatory agencies. Our own governments.
These aren’t crimes of a single individual ,a few Bernie Madoffs, a few errant priests. These are systemic crimes that took collaboration, consensus, concealment throughout the financial system, throughout the church at all levels throughout the world....for years.
They are both crimes against humanity.both with global impacts.
I felt these two concurrent issues of how to pursue justice, where and how to apply available law, raised some very fundamental questions about what we have allowed law to become and how we allow law to selectively operate or not operate according to who the criminal is.These are both issues about us as global citizens..both the processes enabled by bank and market deregulation in 2000 and the many decades long scandal of child expoliation by preists have touched lives worldwide..touched people close to each us worldwide.
It seemed to me to be exactly the kind of issue TED Conversations was created for.
I am profoundly grateful for the global conversation we have had here at TED...for the sort of collaborative search for meaning and justice we have engaged on the workings of law in response to these two systemic global crimes..