This post is long overdue, and, I admit, goaded into my writing it as a result of having recently attended the opening night of “The Whistleblower“, a new film starring Rachel Weisz that very succinctly ‘fleshes out’ the existence, administration and outcome of an International Organization (hereafter ‘I.O.‘) , albeit a small faction thereof, in its commission of services and ultimate lack of accounting when involved with crimes against individuals… in short, their use of ‘legal immunity’ amounts to impunity. [To view a synopsis of the film and a trailer, click here: “The Whistleblower” ]
The issue at hand is a complex one, and, since it is an issue that takes place in an “international environment”, it makes the governance thereof even more complex. What the producers/directors/financial backers/distribution channels of “The Whistleblower” bring to light is a dark subject indeed; even though the events shown in this film happened some 12+ years ago, the alleged perpetrators have yet to be brought before any court of law or international tribunal. This is not unusual, nor even considered alarming by any I.O.’s, countries, or legal tribunals. It just is. And the reasons that such events, such conduct, can continue to happen, even flourish, is due to the complicated and convoluted nature of the situation… as a matter of fact, many such acts and “rings of misconduct” are committed by individuals and those same people do their best to add as much complexity as possible. At the onset, such actions makes the commission of such crimes almost impossible to be seen or noticed by anyone not close enough to the occurrence; this also makes it much, much more difficult for those same outsiders to fully believe that such actions and events have been committed… especially in the manner, and by the individuals that the ‘whistleblower/s’ are whistleblowing on! Ultimately, the complexity, length of time involved with investigating the claims, and the lack of viable, believable witnesses, (and in some cases, still living witnesses) stack the odds against such cases ever reaching a legal tribunal or for the victims of these crimes to be able to ever seek legal remedy.
According to the Human Rights Watch, an independent organization with the mission of dedication to defending and protecting human rights worldwide:
Combating impunity requires the identification of the specific perpetrators of the violations. The doctrine of superior or command responsibility imposes liability on superiors—with either de jure or de facto command—for the unlawful acts of their subordinates, where the superior knew or had reason to know of the unlawful acts, and failed to prevent or punish those acts.
In addition to the obligation to investigate and prosecute, states have an obligation to provide victims with information about the investigation into the violations. Victims should be entitled to seek and obtain information on the causes and conditions resulting to rights violations against them. The former UN Commission on Human Rights adopted principles that “irrespective of any legal proceedings, victims, their families and relatives have the imprescriptible right to know the truth about the circumstances in which violations took place.”
You may go to their website, and directly view their March 8, 2011 article, which is a posting of their report of the same name, entitled “Perpetual Fear“.
You can see that even according to international standards, the ability for anyone to bring charges against wrongdoers is extremely difficult, particularly when the perpetrator(s) has taken measures to ensure covert protection.
Is the case in Bosnia more important than other, more “mundane” cases of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and human torture? In reality, no. But in legal effect, yes. We all know that there are sordid groups of individuals whom prey upon the young, the weak, the oppressed, the disadvantaged, and the disenfranchised. These groups are easy targets, if only because they usually reside within a hidden arena, far away from the prying eyes of law enforcement officials, fully fledged members of ‘standard’ society, and those much more fortunate to not have to become a party to such goings on. Even in first world countries, such as the United States of America, human trafficking is a huge problem, it now rivals the drug trade problem and is growing all the time. This means that there are a lot more customers out there, worldwide, that are predisposed to participating in the use of people whom are victims of the human trafficking/slavery business. And these are the people who have the most to lose. These are the ones who are willing to pay handsomely for such a product and should these “consumers” be arrested and prosecuted, would hurt the institutions behind these “products”. So, in reality, without the presence of I.O.s, it makes it much more difficult for such illegal machinery to continue to function… not just from a financial point of view, but because it makes it much more difficult to continue to hide such a machinery without constantly changing it. The existence of such entities as the “United Nations” makes it much easier for career criminals to hide merely because the I.O. is huge, it has political immunity, and it has access to sources of power with the concomitant huge sums of financial backing that goes along with it. And I am a big believer in the maxim: “What’s happening at the bottom is a reflection of what’s happening at the top”. In addition, the manner in which the I.O. conducts business is simply to good for perpetrators of such crimes to ignore! Consider the case as shown in “The Whistleblower”: the incidence of sexual crimes and trafficking comes to the attention of an employee of a private contractor of the United Nations; this private contractor provides “security” services in the form of being “peace police” and attempting to eradicate any and all crimes against the war-ravaged citizens of Bosnia; these peace officers are “hired” from around the world, with virtually no training by the private contractor, and the individual officers do not know each other as the would usually in a “non-war” situation. So… there is no cohesiveness from the start. The chain of command, if you could call it that, is so convoluted with legal and political restrictions placed upon it by the United Nations, the local governmental agencies, and the private contracting company (NGO), that the people in positions of authority have no functioning authority… by the time anything is put into action to be done, the trail of evidence has long been eradicated, up to and including people being long gone and dead.
It is no coincidence that NGOs are utilized by I.O.s to perform such services as described in this film. They are acting as all other forms of corporate, L.L.P., and limited liability (read responsibility) entities do. They “pass the buck” when it comes to responsibility for anything bad, wrong or potentially illegal. This is even encouraged around the world by all countries… most individuals who are investors in these private companies would NEVER invest in them if they could not transfer such costs elsewhere. (Usually, individual taxpayers end up paying for these costs in a myriad of hidden ways. The first manner is usually by absorbing the exorbitant costs to bring such doings before a court of law.) Most laws specifically allow such entities to be created, and when private contractors are hired to “control” for contracted services, the usual end result is no oversight worth mentioning, and literally millions and billions of dollars of pure profit for those individuals in the know and in unique positions to take advantage of the loopholes and gaps that exist.
Understand the primary underlying issues at hand in this post… a huge International Organization, a huge multinational NGO (private contractor), disconnected and service-specific under-training of individual employees, when combined should send up huge warning signs. In this case, as with all other crimes against humanity, these few details almost always are in conjunction with one another. Together, they are a perfect recipe for committing crimes that go undetected, stay undetected, and, in many cases, are repeated by the same individuals and entities in multiple locations. The primary element to assuring that such conditions exist is one of NON-TRANSPARENCY. Without this element, such events occur but are almost always found out in time before continued damage and crimes are committed. Even with “small-time” human trafficking groups, their operations would be thwarted much easier and faster if the leaders of these “organizations” did not go to such extremes to hide themselves and their cohorts. Human beings are abducted in one place or country, exported to another place or country, and then sold where they are sent to another place or country. All along the way, these abductees rarely see the light of day ever again; they are tortured into submission and desensitized to being ill-treated… this creates an individual that is no longer an individual; the person becomes an entity with no self-esteem and a member of a disadvantaged, enslaved conclave of beings whom are more likely to hurt themselves than their jailers. Their torturers then give them hope that they will one day be set free after they “pay back” their debt to the jailers that are giving them “shelter” and “food”. This makes these unfortunate beings willing participants in their own demise. Most of these people being abused are women and children, the weakest among us usually.
The element of non-transparency causes these crimes to be profitable. Without it, the costs to control these operations would cause them to quickly lose their stranglehold. And, please do not bring up the need for companies to be able to move with secrecy in order to perform their services, or hawk their products, and make some degree of profits. If hiding their actions is required to make a profit, I have become convinced that what they are doing is illegal and criminal. Even in the U.S.A., we now have cameras everywhere. Small time crooks are caught easily because they have not yet adjusted to the new world order that there is no such thing as privacy, and local, regional, and national government agencies have all placed cameras everywhere. Why should it be legal for the ultimate individual, the person, to be losing their privacy, and a non-living entity be able to keep it’s privacy in the form of non-transparency? This is the height of arrogance by all governments. It is also an extremely effective tool to be used against those individuals whom choose to fight this state of affairs and try to expose those whom are acting with impunity while committing crimes, especially under the guise of political and legal immunity. I have a very difficult time accepting that many everyday individuals will accept being treated like this and not try to do something about it. Are we all so willing to give up our civil rights to have paltry servings of luxury doled out to us when the super powers that be deign that we should receive them? Have we all been so brain-washed, or become so stupid to not see what is happening to our modern-day civilization? Perhaps we should all come to the realization that the practice of “economies of scale” has been so over-sold to us as to cause us to accept the outcome of the practice with a faceless accounting term versus the face of destruction it places on so many? The practice has been with us since time immemorial. It is nothing new, except perhaps for the fancy new accounting term applied to it.
And, do not for a second think that I believe that human trafficking will go away anytime soon…. for I do not. This also has been done since the human being populated our planet. There will always be those people whom think that everyone is alive to cater to their every whim and need. Most of those, unfortunately, find their way up to the highest echelons of society, because they realize that the higher up they go, the less transparency there will be, so, of course, they will gain power and resources to further their goals. And, of course, the rest of us continue to operate on a more honorable level, hoping that someone, anyone in a position to do something about such dishonorable people will actually do something about them. Alas, this too, falls by the wayside… those in a position to do something about something are usually being paid by those whom are higher up than them and, you guessed it, in a position to have them fired, or hurt for trying to do something about “those people”. Suffice it to say that the only principle that keeps the majority of humans, and the business agencies that they populate, honest and honorable is one of transparency. Without it… the law cannot possible be upheld. For it cannot see. We all need to remove the blindfold from “Lady Justice” for she also has been corrupted. Her blindfold no longer stands for “meting out justice objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power or weakness”… it has come to symbolize an inability to see what is really happening due to a reliance on there always being truth present, regardless of whether transparency escorts it. Such suppositions are futile, non-fertile, attempts at the concepts of liberty and legal equality… indeed, they invite obfuscation of the facts, proliferate confusion, and encourage the undermining of the freedom of the individual to exist well while maintaining the ability to honor others.
No; the real problem may be illustrated with an example of a conversation that I had recently at a local cafe. A man sat down across from me and proceeded to begin a conversation with myself and another woman who I had been speaking with. His chosen topic was that of the current state of affairs for most people versus that of his own. Seriously. His primary point was that he believed the most important thing in living was to maintain a supremely positive outlook and attitude in and on life in general, and that one should not be concerned with issues that do not personally impact one and that he could not control. The woman who I had been speaking with agreed with him, and, why not? It sounded so very… Zen. It sounded like the distillation of every platitude that I had ever heard uttered and issued from every self-designated “self-help” guru, published or not. So, I proceeded to try to debate the issue with him intelligently and conversationally and issued forth a decree that there would always be something that could not be thought of, talked about, or dealt with in a positive manner except to expose the negative for what it was. He took that personally, proceeded to ask me if I was a happy person, to which I responded yes, but what did that have to do with our discussion. He responded that bringing up negative issues during a positive discussion more or less signalled that the person doing so was probably not a happy person. I responded by saying that living in relative luxury in a west Los Angeles region would cause most people to respond in like kind and he rushed to “defend” himself and say that I misunderstood what he had meant. After about 5 minutes of me trying to get him to state in plain, understandable English without using “psycho-babble”, what he truly intended to say by his original remark to me, I finally gave up trying to have a conversation with him… I finally recognized that he was deliberately misunderstanding my need to create a starting point from which to have a debate. Because, one is needed, if one is to engage in a conversation with another(s) about issues that are NOT common knowledge to all parties that are discussing an issue(s) amongst themselves. Indeed, it truly is easy to overlook anything negative if one refuses to do so… and I finally stated this flatly to him. He responded that he would “pray” for me. I told him not to. He said I just illustrated what he was trying to get me to understand… that I saw only negative in saying that he would “pray” for me. (Of course I would… it is a classic denouement for someone to take when they wish to “nicely” opt out of a conversation that has become confrontational in their opinion and the person who offers to pray for the other is always seen as the most positive one. It is a barb and somewhat slanderous in my opinion… to intimate that I NEEDED someone to pray for me.) I then responded that he was right… he could pray for me if he wanted and there was nothing that I could do, but would he please not bother me with the details, especially to tell me that he was praying for me because I didn’t care whether he did or not. As a matter of fact, I suggested that he instead pray for all those people in the world that were not as well off as he was and were unfortunate enough to be living in a place where sitting outside in the sun and buying a cup of coffee was an impossibility.
This man illustrates to me the epitome of why impunity exists in this world. Looking the other way when something of importance is occurring that is obviously not a good thing does nothing to eradicate the event from ever happening again. Blissful ignorance of wrongdoing does not make it go away…. it merely enables one to relieve oneself of the emotional anguish and suffering of feeling guilty for not having done something about it – even to speak out against it. This man is not alone… I have met many people in my life whom are exactly like this and have always wondered what it would be like to be able to live my life like they do… and to become “blissfully ignorant”. In my opinion, someone who is this happy has a debt to society that needs to be paid… they need to be a standard-bearer and speak out against the wrongs in the rest of the world… you know, the one that “they don’t live in”. It is their responsibility to speak out against wrongs that they are in a position to do something about, even if it is through speech alone and not action. Because those who ARE suffering from these wrongs cannot speak out against these atrocities…. they are not in a position to do so because they ARE the objects and subjects of the atrocities.
If non-transparency is the first element of eradicating impunity, then citizen awareness of the second element. Recognizing that whatever wrongs are being committed against another human being could be just as easily committed against yourself is the first step to taking of the blindfold. If I can be penalized by the law for a wrongdoing, so can someone else… even if they are halfway around the world, in another country, working for a private company under contract to an I.O., and supposed to be on a “peace-keeping” mission. If “ignorance of the law is not an excuse” for exemption from the law for me, it is not for any one else. Especially if they are committing acts that, by all accounts, they would be arrested and severely prosecuted for in their own country.