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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Highlighting the efforts of NGOs in combating the erosion of legal norms.

In the complex tapestry of society, the role of non-governmental organisations in upholding the rule of law is a subject of considerable debate and scrutiny. This discourse often finds itself at the intersection of judicial philosophy, economics, psychology, and the practical workings of law enforcement and public safety. At the heart of this examination is a paradox: while non-governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by taxpayers promote themselves as playing a crucial role in advocating for justice and supporting vulnerable populations, there are constant instances where the actions of NGOs, coupled with activist judicial decisions and systemic challenges, undermine the very fabric of legal norms and public safety.

Taxpayer-funded NGOs, in their zeal to address perceived injustices within the legal system, engage in practices that raise questions about their negative impacts on the rule of law. For example, in many cases, these organisations have been widely accused of utilising activist judicial decisions to challenge established legal norms, advocating for the arbitrary use of bail to alleviate overcrowding in detention facilities and jails, and undermining retributive justice by providing what critics argue is misleading testimony and references to secure the release of violent offenders.

This phenomenon is not merely theoretical but has practical implications in various jurisdictions, including the Northern Territory of Australia. The distinct social and legal landscape in this area, which is characterised by its remote locations, Indigenous populations, and particular socioeconomic challenges, provides a distinctive backdrop against which these issues play out.

One contentious area is the use of activist judicial decisions that seek to rectify systemic injustices but inadvertently create precedents that challenge the consistency of legal enforcement. Even though the goal of such decisions may be to advance the ideology of equity and fairness, critics contend that they weaken the law's objectivity and predictability—two tenets of the rule of law as put forth by individuals like John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin.

Equity, as pursued in contemporary dialogues, often diverges from the bedrock principles of legality and justice that have traditionally guided societies. This pursuit frequently undermines the rule of law by prioritising outcomes over processes. In striving to achieve equal results rather than equal opportunities, equity inadvertently sanctions the use of means that lack legal justification. Such an approach not only deviates from the fundamental tenets of fairness but also erodes the legal and moral framework upon which societies rest, replacing objective law with subjective determinations of what is deemed equitable.

A judge or judicial representative who elevates the concept of equity above the established law not only transgresses the very statutes they are sworn to uphold but also mandates the swiftest and most severe of corrective actions. Elevating equity over law constitutes a fundamental breach of the judicial role, necessitating immediate removal and the imposition of stringent penalties. This stance underscores the importance of adhering to the rule of law as the cornerstone of justice, without which the fabric of an orderly society begins to unravel.

Moreover, the pragmatic use of bail as a tool to manage prison populations highlights a systemic failure rather than a judicial solution. The decision to release people on bail for expediency rather than justice in the Northern Territory, where the capacity to house offenders is frequently insufficient to meet demand, not only undermines public confidence in the legal system but also puts community safety at risk. There have been countless murders at the hands of offenders on bail, yet no judicial representative has been held to account or faced consequences for their decisions.

The role of NGOs in this landscape is particularly complex. On one hand, their advocacy for marginalised communities and efforts to bring about legal reform seem honourable. On the other hand, when such organisations push for the release of individuals based on critiques of the penal system rather than the merits of individual cases, they are at odds with the principles of justice and accountability. This tension is exacerbated in cases where NGOs benefit from the continued cycle of crime and victimisation, either through funding mechanisms or through the perpetuation of their relevance in the societal narrative.

Real-world examples of these dynamics in Australia, and specifically in the Northern Territory, abound. Debate over the long-term effects of bail law reform initiatives on crime rates and community perceptions of safety has arisen as a result of efforts to address racial disparities in the justice system. Similarly, efforts to integrate Indigenous customary law into the formal legal system, while aimed at achieving a more culturally sensitive approach to justice, raise complex questions about the balance between traditional practices and the universal principles underpinning the rule of law. The brutality of customary laws does not align with the objectives of taxpayer funded NGOs promoting human rights and equality.

The actions of certain NGOs in these contexts, particularly those providing legal defence or advocacy for offenders, are a point of contention. Critics argue that by focusing predominantly on the rights of the accused, these organisations inadvertently diminish the rights of victims and the broader community's right to safety and justice. This critique is not to diminish the vital role of legal defence in a just society but to highlight the need for a balanced approach that considers the well-being of all stakeholders in the legal system.

A foreseeable consequence of the advocacy of violent criminals in Alice Springs has led to violent offenders walking the streets and brutally attacking and threatening many of the legal advocates and NGO staff members. This has led to members of the activist judiciary calling for more legal representatives to come to the very town they have turned into a violent battlefield. If any private industry made such overtly ludicrous statements, and negligent requests, they would be immediately condemned and face severe consequences.

The role of taxpayer-funded NGOs in upholding the rule of law is fraught with challenges. The unintended consequences of their actions on legal norms and public safety warrant careful consideration. The argument over activist judicial rulings, the use of bail, and the actions of NGOs in the context of the Northern Territory's legal system highlights how challenging it is to uphold justice and safety in a society with a wide range of needs and viewpoints. As Australia grapples with these issues, the dialogue between all parties involved remains crucial in forging a path forward that respects the rule of law while addressing the underlying social and systemic challenges that give rise to these debates.

One might observe that the stark reality that many of the issues NGOs claim to address lies in their own dissolution or obsolescence frequently makes it difficult to engage in productive dialogue with them. The cessation of a crisis, which they are financially vested in, paradoxically threatens their existence, creating an inherent conflict of interest that complicates meaningful conversations about solutions.  From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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