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Policy on Judicial and Criminal Matters

The processes of radical rethinking demanded by the PsgD must extend also to our system of law and justice. Besides these changes, laws must give consistent expression also to the general prevailing sense of what is right, and of what is wrong. This would result in a reduction of the present overload of legal proceedings and to a reduction of the time required for those proceedings still brought.

Quite aside from this, however, it is urgently necessary that the duration of legal proceedings be drastically reduced in all areas of the law and before all sorts of courts. This speeding-up of legal proceedings would constitute already in itself an increase in justice and the security of law.

The „Controlled Substances Act“ and Drug-Related Crime

Already in the very earliest human societies (and indeed even in the animal kingdom) we observe individuals using the most various means and methods - from dancing oneself into a trance-like state, through various sorts of narcotic plant, to today’s synthetic drugs - in order to bring themselves into states of ecstasy or intoxication.

All attempts hitherto made to ban such intoxicating or narcotic substances have proven totally ineffective. We live, presently, in an age in which a greater range of such substances are more readily available, at any time and any place and for people of almost every age, than in any previous era. And this despite the fact that the state is currently investing countless millions in the investigation of drug-related crimes and grave penalties (in some countries even the death-penalty) are attached to drug-trafficking.

Where we closely consider the development of drug consumption, the drugs themselves and the geographical regions in which they were originally consumed, we must arrive at the following conclusion:

every geographical region has had, since the very earliest times, its typical local drug or narcotic: so, for example, alcohol in Germany and other Central European areas, cocaine, myristicine and mescaline in certain areas of America, opium in the Far East. The enjoyment of such „regional drugs“ over periods lasting millennia has resulted in no serious harm or damage to the societies in question. Otherwise, the peoples concerned would not have survived at all. It was only at the point where the „regional drugs“ in question began to be transferred into other regions that problems arose. In these latter regions, there is lacking all that implicit knowledge of how to use and handle the drug in question which had developed over long periods in its region of origin. Society faces a similar problem in the case of newer drugs which possess an addictive potential intolerably higher than those hitherto available. Thus wine, at a certain point, produced schnapps, opium heroin, and coca leaves cocaine. In the case of the very newest drugs, such as Ecstasy or LSD, there exists in no society anywhere any traditionally-acquired knowledge of how to operate safely and constructively with them.

A further very serious problem posed by the currently globalized world of drugs is drug-related criminality. Particularly as the drug-dealer, operating in any case outside the law, will always be attempting, either through simple persuasion or by cutting „softer“ drugs with „harder“, to bring his customers to consume more addictive substances, so as to ensure his profits. The customer, then, once addicted, will acquire the money to feed this addiction by fair means or foul. A large number of crimes are drug-related in this sense - from petty theft, through illegal prostitution, right through to robbery with murder.

The damage suffered by society and the economy, both as a result of such deeds themselves and as a result of the costly police investigation and juridical process which must follow on them, is gigantic and can no longer be borne.

Experience has shown that measures hitherto taken here have been largely ineffective; on the other hand, however, it would surely be irresponsible, both in ethical and in economic terms, to immediately legalize all drugs and narcotics.

A way out of this dilemma is offered by a 3-stage model of the following sort:

  1. Measures might be taken to teach people how to use drugs in a viable and non-harmful manner, said teaching to be combined with instruction as to how to achieve, in general, a more stable personality structure.

  2. Certain „soft drugs“ might be made legally available, under strict conditions, via certified dealers; in this way, it can at least be ensured that the drugs in question will not be cut with more addictive substances.

  3. Those, however, who already find themselves addicted to such hard drugs as heroin should be able to receive these drugs - free, or at very low prices, and for immediate use - at special established locations.

The advantages of this model are obvious:

It would remove drug-related criminality, reduce medical costs through reducing the transmission of AIDS, hepatitis C etc. It would also lead to a drastic fall in the demand for drugs on the black market, which would in turn bring about the collapse of the drug cartels, so that the drugs on offer on this black market would also swiftly vanish, the addict thus passing beyond the reach of the dealer.

A further advantage of the establishment of fixed locations for the distribution and use of narcotic drugs is that this would ensure sustained contact with the addicted individuals and the possibility of attempting to persuade these latter to undergo therapy.

Criminal Law and the Penal System

There is much that is not in order in our system of criminal law. For reasons that do not appear clear or justifiable, offences against the person tend to be pursued and punished with far less rigour than offences involving property; the punishment imposed on those responsible for the inflicting of bodily injury within the context of a genuine accident is very harsh when compared to that imposed on those inflicting bodily injury with intent; and in the punishment, in general, of offences involving property, far too little attention is paid to the actual scale of the material value illegally damaged or acquired.

Moreover, punishments imposed take, when these take the form of fines, far too little into consideration the individual financial situation of the offender in question. To impose a fine of € 1.000,--, on someone attempting to get by on social security payments is to punish this person much more harshly than someone earning a decent wage would be punished even by a fine of, say, € 10.000,-- . The former has no resources in reserve on which he can draw to reduce the impact on him of the fine, whereas, for the latter, such a punishment means no more than his having to put off buying his next new car for a couple of years or withdraw a hefty sum from his savings account.

What needs, however, to be condemned most strongly is the widespread practice of imposing on prominent figures proven to have broken the law either no punishment at all (as in the case of ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl) or a relatively mild one, while regularly „making examples“ of normal citizens caught in such acts.

In the cases of offenders with greater financial means at their disposal, an appropriate measure might be the imposition, in addition to a fine, of some form of arrest-like detention during one or more holiday-periods. The offender would certainly feel the effect of such a punishment, without thereby suffering serious harm or damage.

Moreover, the execution of penal measures in general should not be looked on as a forcing of the offender to „do penance“ for his offence, or as a right of punishment belonging to the state, but rather as an opportunity to straighten out, by means of intensive education and support, the shortcomings of the offender in question in respect of his awareness of himself as a member of society along with others.

There exists already today sufficient proof that these increased costs would have, in the last analysis, their economic dividend, since we would see thereby a significant fall in the rate of recidivism.

Administrative Law

Our whole system of administrative law needs to be totally reworked and to become clearer and more manageable.

Indeed, „courts of administrative law“ are things which ought not even to exist, since it is surely our right to expect that state and administrative bodies keep in all matters very carefully and exactly to the regulations they themselves have established, such state authorities being, by definition, models for our whole society.

Moreover, it is imperative that our system of administrative law come finally to express, besides the generally prevalent sense of what is right and legitimate, also the way in which the modern citizen of a democracy - as opposed to the „loyal subject“ of some still-feudal society - sees and understands his relation to the state.

This should apply particularly to laws bearing upon the rights and duties of the police.

Civil Law

At a time when an ever larger gulf is opening up between the economic power of large enterprises and that of individual citizens, civil law is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that contracts drawn up between these two sets of parties are fair and proper.

All too often, it proves possible for banks, property sharks, and other large concerns to further their interests, contrary to all natural sense of what is right and proper, by means of cleverly conceived contracts.

The present job insecurity and prevalence, across many social strata, of low incomes also make it imperative that we rethink the law on debt and indebtedness.

The current practice, whereby payments overdue are given, at the costs of the debtor, into the hands of lawyers and debt recovery agencies, constitutes a disproportionate pressure on said debtor and contributes in large part to the emergence of situations in which a temporary financial crisis swiftly develops into the absolute financial ruin of this latter.

Companies always have, in principle, the choice of insisting on cash payment directly upon delivery of their wares and services. If they offer these latter on credit, they do this not in order to be amenable to the customer, but in order to increase their sales and profits. Given that this is the case, it is more than merely deplorable that these companies then set about completely ruining those who - often through no fault of their own - have fallen behind on such credit payments by adding to these latter interest and punitive charges.

At a very minimum, the debtor must be accorded the possibility of unburdening himself of such debt-recovery charges by acknowledging his liability for the debt in question and publicly registering his inability to pay.