The myth of victims' rights

Many blog inches have gone to discussing the case of Learco Chindamo, the murderer of Philip Lawrence. The opposition to Chindamo's being able to stay in the UK could be charitably described as shrill. Kris Stoke Newington's entire post reads
Hang on. This killer does not have a British passport and because of his murder conviction can never get one, yet somehow it is his “human right” to remain in the UK at the end of his sentence?!
It is all a little bit like The Daily Mail. Fortunately, the Ministry of Truth has pointed out some of the Mail's, ahem, oversights. Iain Dale asks a simple question in response to the Human Rights Act being cited in allowing Chindamo to remain in the UK - "What about THEIR human rights?" - what about the human rights of the family of the victim, Philip Lawrence.

There is an immediate and very strong answer from none other than Tim Worstall:

[H]e [Chindamo] won an argument under the Human Rights Act that he was entitled to respect for a family life and that removal in his case would be disproportionate. But this was secondary to his case under EU law. Under articles 27 and 28 of the EU Citizens Directive 2004, which took effect last year, an EU citizen can be expelled only on grounds of public policy, public security or public health.
So all the criticism of the Human Rights Act in this case is misplaced.

Nevertheless, people are attacking the Act more and more often and the ghastly spectre of victims' rights has started to rear its head. There are some things that should be called victims' rights; amongst these are effective investigation by the police, speedy resolution of the case, support from the counselling part of the police, financial compensation and keeping the media at arms' length; not all of these apply in every case, and there may be more.

Victims do not, IMHO, have rights against the person who committed a crime and their rights to appropriate treatment and sensitivity certainly do not extend to the penal process. This is for three reasons.

Rights are not zero-sum; that is to say, there is no logical necessity for the duty of care that state owes a victim of crime resulting in that person having rights against the criminal. Put another way, we do not demand 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' or 'a lifetime of vengeance for a life cut short'.

Secondly, victims are not special. In the case of Chindamo, I fail to see, if he is such an unpleasant character (which I dispute based on the evidence available) why I should be pleased that the problem is removed to Italy. I do not see why, judicially, a second crime on a person should be feared any more than a first crime on second else.

Thirdly, they lead to unacceptable variations in the law. If someone were to steal a Snoopy stuffed toy, you might say that it was a minor offence. If someone were to steal my Snoopy stuffed toy - my companion since birth - I would be devastated and probably be demanding blood. If I, or I think any person other than a dessicated calculating machine, were the victim of crime, they would immediately become biased to such a point that they could not make a neutral decision; they are partial.


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