A State of Impunity

By Joy Aceron, Government Watch (G-Watch)

Corruption, sexual harassment, use of violence, unresponsive and flawed policies.

What is one bottomline of these core problems we face today?

IMPUNITY. Politicians steal money, powerful men harass and rape women, the poor get killed, decisions made that affect all our lives are wrong and detrimental because those in power, those who have money, those who are well-connected, occupying positions of unimaginable influence, think they can get away with it.

And they do. The powerful get away with anything.

Why do we live in a state of impunity?

Because societies and states lack the capacity to hold power to account. There is a crisis of accountability because of extreme asymmetry in power and resources.

The actions and efforts citizens and institutions take to prevent or punish abuse are weak and weakened. Education and knowledge are for the priviledged. Agenda of development are set on top. Resources are allocated by the powerful. The connected are the ones with access to all.

In a highly unequal society that is already a fertile ground for impunity, conscious efforts to enable actions and efforts of citizens and institutions to check power need to be strengthened and solidified.

This is not a technocratic task and referring solely on checking authority and bureaucracy. This is a political task. What needs to be checked is power that corrupts, rapes, abuses and kills, permeating both public and private spaces.

This is beyond simply calling out the abusers, shaming the corrupt or praising the good, communicating what is good and bad and why. This requires hands-on actions and actors at all levels and spaces of power, which has to be harnessed and consolidated to dismantle structures, systems, cultures of impunity, violence and abuse. We need to be inspired and moved, but that inspiration and actions must have goals and direction.

Finally, this is not going to happen if the different advocacies towards accountability and justice continue to happen in silos.

There is a core logic behind all the abuse and oppression we see today. It is the logic of impunity. That logic is perpetuated by a system consisting of structures, subparts and machineries. It has order, direction and goals.

The corruption, abuse and violence we experience are inter-connected. Unless the efforts against it are able to create its own logic with a system, accountability will never win and the state of impunity will persist.