Thursday, 29 January 2009

Quick hit: Some victims of crime are more victimy than others

I heard about this on National Radio this morning (the Tourism Minister was unavailable for comment), and found this in the Herald:
The CEO of campervan rental company Jucy, Tim Alpe, said the negative press on the attack is putting Dutch tourists off travelling to New Zealand and the company has already had three cancellations this week.

"All have been Dutch and all have commented to reservation staff that it has been because of their concerns for security," Mr Alpe said.

He said the Government needed to look at harsher sentences for people who attack tourists because the attacks have an impact on the whole society.
Maybe I have the wrong end of the stick, but I thought one of the points of our justice system and the concept of "crimes" is that they are crimes against society to start with. Hence the state's involvement in prosecution, rather than sueing people privately for assault, murder, rape, etc. Are tourists somehow more innocent, or more important, because they contribute to our economy? And where does a conclusion like that lead next?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is not realistic to think that there would be separate punishment for crimes against tourists. What we were trying to get across is that New Zealanders should have a zero tolerance for crimes against tourists as they impact on everyone. We are by no means saying crimes against New Zealanders are not as serious.

The ex-expat said...

Anon let me put this another way. The Dutch tourist was attacked as she was sleeping in her car. If it had been a kiwi woman, the likely reflex action would be you shouldn't have been sleeping in a car it's dangerous etc. So because the tourist spends money she should have greater protections for her freedom of movement than a local woman.

As an aside, tourists are vulnerable target for crime. I always laugh when people tell about how dangerous it is for me to visit countries like Cambodia when the tourists in our own country are targeted just as much.

Alison said...

Crimes on anyone impact on everyone Anonymous. We're all paying for the justice system, the prisons, victim support, the police force. That's why the Crown prosecutes criminals on behalf of citizens.

Julie said...

I'm a bit curious about the "we" in anonymous's comment. Is Anon from Jucy rentals?

sas said...

Perhaps we should introduce a 'value assessment' prior to sentencing. That way the judge/jury can take into account the victim's net worth to ensure we really punish the offenders who mess with the 'valuable victims'.
What price for me I wonder?

Julie said...

Hmm, I wonder if I'm worth my weight in gold? That would be a suitably arbitrary measure would it not?

sas said...

Gold, barrels of oil, rice, magic beans: we just need a universal arbitrary measure of a victim's worth. How hard can it be? Why has no one thought of this before now?! ;)

Julie said...

Now we just need to work out how to translate weight in gold to years in jail...

Anna said...

You cynical people!

I had a related argument with a women I know about hate crimes. She supported legislation specifically to recognise crimes motivated by racial prejudice, homophobia, etc. I thought (without knowing anything about the law at all) that these things should be recognised during sentencing under the existing legislation.

My friend's rationale was that a hate crime instills fear in a certain group of society and impacts on their quality of life - ie a crime against a gay person makes other gay people feel less safe, less able to be part of their community, etc.

I accepted the point to some degree - but, arguably, every violent crime is motivated by hatred of someone to some degree, and other people are certainly affected by them. Poor people who live in dangerous neighbourhoods are more likely to be victimised, creating fear amongst other poor people, but we don't recognise socioeconomic status as a social group that hate crimes can be directed against. Likewise, domestic violence is most often committed against women, but we don't look at that as being based in misogyny, and therefore fulfilling the definition of a hate crime.

Where is this long rant going? I don't know.

Joanna said...

Hmm, I wonder if I'm worth my weight in gold? That would be a suitably arbitrary measure would it not?

But Julie, as a fatty I'd technically be worth more than you, but I'm also an eyesore and a drain on society, so surely I'd be worth less than you? Although a muscular sports person would be worth more than you, of course, so hmmm, problematic!

Julie said...

Actually this situation reminds me of an incident of domestic violence my partner and I tried to intervene in on the Tube in London. When we finally managed to get the attention of the guards they didn't care about whether this guy was going to beat up his girlfriend, just whether he had hit either of us (ie the tourists). :-(

Cactus Kate said...

I blame Mr Alpe.

He's obviously got an interest in looking after tourists.

Shame on him.