'Epidemic of violence' must end before global poverty can be erased

Published 03 March 2014  |  
AP

The CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), Gary Haugen warned on Friday that a "vast epidemic of violence" is sweeping the developing world and hindering global efforts to end poverty.

In a speech to political, legal and media figures at London's Legatum Institute, Mr Haugen revealed four billion people live outside of the protection of law.

Mr Haugen compared the violence "rolling through the developing world" to AIDS and said both problems were having a deep impact against the fight against poverty.

Citing the example of India, the former US Department of Justice employee and committed Christian explained, "If you enslave someone you're at greater risk of being struck by lightening than you ever are of being convicted and sent to prison for that crime."

Mr Haugen was speaking at the launch of his new book The Locust Effect: Why The End Of Poverty Requires The End Of Violence, which has received endorsements from President Bill Clinton and the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab.

Mr Haugen cited four types of violence that are prevalent among the world's poor.  They are domestic violence including sexual abuse; slavery; police abuse; and land theft.

He argued that law enforcement agencies were not working in many nations because they were "never designed to protect the poor person from violence".

"Most poor people in the developing world have never seen a law enforcement officer that was not corrupt or brutal…In the developing world you don't run to the police for protection, you run from the police for protection.

"The criminal justice systems in developing world were set up by colonial powers for the purpose of protecting the regime from the common person and they've never been reengineered now that the colonial powers have left. So you have a change of laws over the half century but what you have not changed is the delivery system by which law enforcement is meant to be brought to the poor.

"Everyone knows in these countries that you can't rely upon the police or the courts to protect you or your property so if you have money you purchase security with private security forces.

"In a country like Guatemala private security forces are 7 times larger than the public police force. In India the private security is 4 times larger than the public police force even though that's the largest public police force in the world!

In what he called "congestive collapse" Mr Haugen explained that in cities including Mumbai and New Dehli, "It would take between 300 and 400 years to get the backlog of cases through the courts".

"You don't actually have a court system operating," he said.

But Mr Haugen believes there is "tremendous hope" and his vision to bring justice to the developing world is "not impossible".

"Every reasonably functioning criminal justice system in the world was once brutal and corrupt. Every country engages a fascinating fight to not only set up a criminal justice system but then to get it back from either money interest or political power that coopts that system for its own purposes. "

My Haugen cited Project Lantern, which his organisation ran with help from The Gates Foundation in the Philippines. Over a period of four years, IJM rescued 200 trafficking victims and charged more than 100 suspected traffickers in Metro Cebu. The human rights agency also reduced the number of minors available for exploitation in the town's commercial sex industry by 79 per cent.

The Founder of IJM was speaking as part of his international campaign to raise awareness and educate Western nations about violence in the developing world. He urged listeners to "become educated" and help bring the problem of violence into the mainstream conversation on tackling global poverty.

Mr Haugen is also collecting signatures through the book's website thelocusteffect.com/petition to urge the United Nations to support 2015 Millennium Development Goals that will, "Eliminate all forms of violence against children, ensure that justice institutions are accessible, independent, well-resourced and respect due-process rights and enhance the capacity, professionalism and accountability of the security forces, police and judiciary."

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