For some time now, “Corporate Manslaughter” has existed as a concept in the U.K. – recently being installed as legislation. Of course, corporations are very good at BURYING evidence of wrong-doing, thus cases even reaching court have been few.
However, World-wide, a few successful prosecutions have been brought, particularly – in the Far East, where building collapses due to shoddy building work – frequently exacerbated by graft – have occasionally ended with builders and/or property owners being jailed. Even executed.
Which is a good thing (although me and my brothers frown on capital punishment – see Damien – http://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/).
However, given that GOVERNMENTS are a KIND of corporation (and they certainly have TIES to them) and frequently, for reasons of pure greed, introduce policies that result and could reasonably have been FORSEEN to have resulted in citizens’ DEATHS – would it not be fair for THEM to be liable for the same consideration?
I mean, manslaughter is defined as unlawful KILLING – essentially the same as murder. However, there are degrees of culpability involved, resulting in courts dividing the crime into various categories – constructive manslaughter, criminally negligent manslaughter, involuntary and voluntary manslaughter, etc.
Next come the crimes themselves. Politicians and political parties determine POLICY. And these policies inevitably impact upon areas of public health, safety, working conditions – and financial issues. All of which can determine whether actual citizens live or die.
Then there are the people involved. Political parties are always tied into the business world, thus those interests are bound to dictate policy. And many politicians are directly connected with said business interests (even though many countries FORBID this, there are inevitably ways around the legislation).
Generally, with commercial cases, courts seek to nail CEOs of the corporations they prosecute, on the principle of “the buck stops here”.
But this is usually impractical. The CEOs plead they could not possibly know about the grass-roots day-to-day workings of their companies and with perhaps several levels of authority between them and the actual instigators of the alleged crime, they can be seen to have a point. Plus, CEOs have POWER.
And the same is generally true with political leaders.
However, the political arena is usually more open than the boardroom – thus when policies are introduced that make our World a little less safe, we KNOW about it. Villains like Johnson, Thatcher and Bush have far higher profiles than their normally faceless counterparts in industry.
Therefore, if a company who buys machinery it knows will result in casualties – or dumps toxic waste in rivers – or cuts corners with building designs, materials – or whatever – all for financial GAIN, is considered CULPABLE – surely governments who bring in legislation or make policy decisions they know will ALSO cost lives should be EASY to identify.
And their responsibility also. Like, the Torybastards who ruled Britain in the Eighties and Nineties were TOLD that “privatising” (commercialising) British Rail would cost lives, due to companies cutting maintenance costs to the bone – which it DID.
Also they were TOLD that… Listen, just about every slimy thing they DID cost lives – chiefly those of the poor, of course – and PLENTY of learned people WARNED them of the consequences of their actions (see Damien again – on “President Palin”).
The thing is these days, at least in theory, any commercial companies that make decisions they KNOW, or can reasonably foresee, will cost lives, lay themselves open to a charge of “culpable homicide” – and the people at the TOP end up in the DOCK.
Thus, if government leaders were subject to the same rules – perhaps they would think twice before making policy decisions that KILL US.