Playing with fire

Friday, September 16, 2016 Playing with fireLittle over a fortnight after a San Martín surgeon gunned down the man trying to steal his Toyota, the issue of vigilante justice has returned to newspaper headlines and media debate after a Zárate butcher killed a presumed thief last Tuesday — it is thus time for both government and society to define its positions on what is sure to be a chronic problem before a dangerous escalation of violence between criminals and the citizenry at large takes root (changing the roles definitely). But Macri arguably had less right than Bullrich to applaud a man taking the law into his own hands and converting robbery into a capital offence — if the legitimate right to self-defence was highly tenuous in the confusing San Martín episode, it was directly non-existent in this latest case when the butcher had to pursue his presumed assailants a considerable distance before running one of them over. A major seminar on Wednesday at the “mini-Davos” investment forum headed by Vice-President Gabriela Michetti and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti was entitled (in English) “Establishing the Rule of Law” but the rule of law is not being served when suspected criminals are denied their right to a fair trial, instead being subjected to an arbitrary form of capital punishment which has never been prescribed by the Criminal Code for this or any other crime. Perhaps Macri was consciously or subconsciously influenced by this international context in being more cautious yesterday but this attitude has been the exception rather than the rule in his general approach — certainly not the tone of his “war on drugs” launched at a mega-event late last month or the subtle efforts of his administration to soft-pedal the trials of the crimes against humanity during the 1976-83 military dictatorship. But anybody taking the law into their own hands warrants “zero tolerance” as much as anybody breaking the law — not only does this encourage trigger-happy police and vigilante-minded citizens to take a grim toll in innocent lives but criminals will become more inclined to kill their targets preventively in their own version of “legitimate self-defence.”

September 16, 2016 03:56 UTC

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