Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Transitional Justice at the Crossroads: Which road(s) do we take?

Transitional justice is a politically fraught endeavour, where the conflicts of the past are continued through legal and political wrangling.  TJ raises the questions: who is justice for – victims or local/international community?  What does justice mean – TJ in its broadest sense is concerned with criminal trials, truth and reparations; whereas international criminal justice is focussed on narrow criminal trials. 

The main problem for societies emerging from political violence or authoritarian regimes is the multifaceted nature of conflict and how it affects both individuals and the fabric of society.  Hayner (2001) puts forward the notion that these societies are at a ‘crossroads’ and asks what should be done with the recent history full of traumatised victims and perpetrators; with the fear, the silence, and the denial?  There is a tension between those who are in left with the reins of power and those who were trampled underfoot by previous regimes.  At this ‘crossroads’ the question is put: do you bring the perpetrators to justice and punish them or is it better to forget about what happened and just draw a line under the past?  For Minow (1998) the answer may lie somewhere in between: between vengeance and forgiveness.

Hayner argues that justice is difficult to pursue especially in societies where the peace has been negotiated and there are no clear winners or losers.  This is where the concept of transitional justice comes in.  The United Nations (2004) defines transitional justice as ‘…the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempts to come to terms with the legacy of large scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation’.  This definition has raised expectations for many victims: expectations that have proven difficult to realise.  The aims are highly aspirational and they tend to leave societies with more questions than answers.  Who is actually going to be held to account; to whom is justice actually served; and does reconciliation naturally follow?

The need to include victims in the transitional process has now been recognised as an important aspect of transitional justice and victimology.  Karstedt (2010) notes that today, the presence of victims is acknowledged as a necessary precondition for establishing truth and accountability, and the objective of transitional justice is defined by doing justice to and for the victims.  Victims were ‘seminal’ in the establishment of TJ (Karstedt, 2010).

One of the main problems that victims face is the culture of silence and denial that the people and power structures, which were part of their victimisation, have over them.  For many victims the prominent discourse is that they should just stay silent, bury their vindictive urges, and accept impunity for fear of reigniting the violence.  This utilitarian discourse is concerned with stabilising the fragile transition from violence to peace: the suffering of the few should not outweigh the benefits for the many.

Ad hoc international Tribunals came to the fore following the mass killings in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s.  They were heralded by proponents as noble attempts to deliver justice to the direct victims of gross human rights violations.  The outcomes have had a mixed reception.  This may be down to the approach taken by the Tribunals themselves. 

The judicial approach could best describe the response to the genocide in Rwanda which occurred during the summer of 1994.  The extent and nature of the genocide was such that it ‘seriously affected the social tissue of Rwandan society’ according to Vandeginste (2003).  To repair this damage a mammoth response would be required.   The international community demanded that the alleged perpetrators be prosecuted.  Orenlichter (1991) speaks to the ‘duty to prosecute’ as being sacrosanct to the rule of law.  In contrast, Mallinder and McEvoy (2012) argue that this ‘duty’ is not clearly defined especially when examining intranational conflicts. 

Nevertheless, the United Nations created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) only a matter of months after the events in the expectation that it could end the ‘cycle of impunity’ by rendering justice and determining guilt for the horrific crimes committed; while also ‘contributing to the process of national reconciliation and to the restoration and maintenance of peace’.

This expectation that any such trial could lead to peace and reconciliation was ambitious.  Vandeginste points to a number of factors that may explain how it failed to live up to these expectations: one being the fact that the process took too long to complete; ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.    The ICTR was also operating in the atmosphere of ongoing gross human rights violations of which it had no mandate to investigate.  This compounded the notion that the ICTR was only interested in justice for the victors of the 1994 period as gross human rights violations before and after this period were not included in the mandate.  Moffett argues that this narrow temporal jurisdiction limited victim recognition.

Furthermore, the ICTR did not take into consideration the local expectations of how justice should be administered:  this was decided by the political elites in the United Nations Security Council.  The Tribunal operated on the basis of the Western style courtrooms with due process at its heart and sought to protect the two party adversarial system.  There was no room for victim-witnesses to give their own personal accounts of suffering; instead the emphasis relied upon the witnesses keeping to the facts as laid out in the charges.  Only the Prosecutor  had the power to decide who would be called to give evidence and, as such, many victims felt excluded. 

When victims are excluded from the process it can undermine the healing effects and as Karstedt (2010) argues justice can only be felt in an abstract way.  Danieli (2006) concurs with this and views these types of trials as a missed opportunity for healing: with survivors receiving little meaning from the process.  Victims are now acknowledged as symbolic stakeholders who participation is vital to the legitimacy of the process. 

The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) is a further example of the international response to mass atrocity.  Minow argues that the ‘rule of law’ was subverted in some ways by this Tribunal due to the fact that it relied on political actors and developments for its operations, resources, and decisions.  The main problem was that many of the indictments were levelled at political elites who remained in power.  There was therefore no incentive for the warring parties to come to the negotiating table as their guilt was presupposed.  Furthermore, the international response was viewed as a cynical political effort to retain some legitimacy after its inadequate response to the slaughter itself.

Moffett (2014) argues that despite developments in international law, victimology and human rights law, such tribunals did not substantially deliver justice to victims; and that justice for victims is primarily rhetoric used to justify punishment and to legitimise their own existence.  Victims are considered objects, with justice being done on the basis of their suffering, without recognising them as subjects having their own needs and interests.  According to the President of the ICTY, the overseers of both tribunals i.e. the United Nations Security Council, neglected the issue of reparations (which could have addressed many of these needs) thereby hindering the wider goals of the Tribunal in delivering justice to victims.  Moffett concludes that the Tribunals were unable to deliver reparations due to a lack of legal basis in their respective Statutes, capacity, and political will.  Their mandate was to prosecute rather than provide a wider conception of justice to victims.

So what next for the victims?  For many the next step is finding the truth in the expectation that the truth will heal: individually and on the macro societal level.  In the transitional justice paradigm this has come to mean ‘Truth Commissions’.  Hayner defines truth commissions as officially sanctioned top-down temporary bodies designed to investigate patterns of past abuses.  Again like trials they are viewed as collective efforts to deal with past abuses with the aim of possible reconciliation.  While cynically viewing the nomenclature as an Orwellian irony Minow (2002) concedes that truth commissions can expose and document torture, murders and other human rights violations that would otherwise be ignored and denied. 

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is an oft-cited example of a response that gave victims a voice through a mass collection of personal testimony.  It was hoped that the TRC would deliver some sort of justice to the victims through an acknowledgement of their credibility and a symbolic recognition of their suffering, which had once been denied by the Apartheid regime.  However, Minow argues that the TRC denied those who sought retributive justice by placing an emphasis on a contrived expectation of forgiveness from the survivors.  The victims were almost ‘forced’ to forgive the perpetrators in the spirit of national reconciliation.  The victims became pawns in the challenging realpolitik of transition.

The truth is not always seen as a noble aim within the politics of transitional societies.   In certain cases, where metaconflict is strong, calls for truth and justice are categorised as weapons.  Taking the case of the transitional process in Northern Ireland, there has been, to date, no concrete agreement on whether a bona fide truth commission could even exist.  According to Lundy and McGovern (2001), the truth itself has been branded as a Republican Trojan Horse by many in the Unionist community: to be used as a stick with which to beat the British state.  However, many victims of state violence view the actions of the British state, on the subject of accountability, as an example of ‘memory politics’: of state power imposing a paradigm of ‘organized forgetting’. Lundy and McGovern point to a lack of political and interpersonal trust, which was inherent during the conflict, as dangerously permeating the transition to peace. 

Furthermore the lack of a master-narrative on the nature of the conflict feeds this distrust.  One community, the unionists, continue to deny any wrongdoing by the state while the other side, the nationalists, feels that their suffering is not recognised or acknowledged.  The politics of memory and truth are highly contested and difficult to deal with.  As a result the demands of realpolitik require that the past is deliberately left untouched. 

However, the reality is that legacy issues continue to seep out of the political vacuum and are only dealt with in, what Bell (2002) calls, a piecemeal fashion.  Lundy (2010) is concerned that such an ad hoc approach has increased the sectarian divide between the two communities and further contributed to the socioeconomic deprivation that plagues certain disadvantaged areas.

Previous attempts to deal with the past in Northern Ireland now sit on shelves gathering dust: waiting to be taken down and rehashed; only to then fall prey to the lack of political will to implement them.  Boilerplate reports such as Bloomfield; Eames/Bradley; Haass/O’Sullivan; and Stormont House await activation.  Procrastination and the interweaving of legacy issues with other intractable problems such as welfare reform have rendered these report and agreements stillborn.  A cynic could easily conclude that this approach suit many of the actors who would rather keep truth and justice on the long finger.

Paradoxically, a more obvious response to injustice in the form of the restorative notion of reparations can also get mired in the political tensions of transitional societies.  By definition reparations are designed to repair that which has been damaged.  These can be symbolic in nature manifested in the form of memorials and commemoration; or material responses through compensation or improved access to health and social services, states Minow.

The challenges facing reparations arise from many quarters.  One being: who gets access and who is denied?  The very definition of victimhood is contested in many transitional societies.  Smyth (2008) points to the political dynamic of Northern Ireland’s negotiated ‘peace’ as an aggravating factor in who are ascribed victim status; and the implications of being denied this status. 

Certain political parties and victims groups have continually attempted to change the current definition of victimhood, as set out by the UK government, to exclude perpetrators of human rights abuses who were also victimised.  The current definition recognises human suffering as the main qualification for victimhood.  The proposed changes would bring in moral responsibility as a disqualification and only the innocent ‘ideal victims’, as Bouris calls them, deserve recognition.  The logical conclusion is that some bereaved families could be excluded from access to reparations due to the actions of their deceased relatives.

According to Minow (1998) the aim of reparations is to help victims move beyond anger and a sense of powerlessness.  Taking away victimhood status and removing access to reparations could compound this: leading to future resentment; further perpetuating the cycle of hatred, from which transitional societies are seeking to escape.

Gready (2014) questions the reach of transitional justice and proposes the notion of transformative justice. While not seeking to dismiss or replace transitional justice there is a focus on radically reforming its politics, locus and priorities.  It entails a shift in focus from the legal to the social and political and from the state and institutions to communities and everyday concerns.  Transformative justice is not the result of a top down imposition of external legal frameworks or institutional templates, but more of a bottom up understanding and analysis of the lives and needs of populations.  Transitional societies could attempt to implement a combination of top down and bottom up approaches to fit their situation and hopefully this will embed long term peace and reconciliation.

It is clear that the available responses offered by what has become known as transitional justice may lack some of the necessary qualities to bring about real reconciliation and lasting peace.  This may not be the fault of the mechanisms themselves per se, as responsibility for applying them lies with those who are left with the reins of power during the transition and beyond.  Dealing with the aftermath of gross human rights violations is a mammoth task for all involved.  These societies need strong and honest leadership.  Leadership, not just in the government, but at all strata of society, including victims and perpetrators, that will carry society with them on the journey to peace. 

Transitional justice is a noble aim which hopes to bring truth, justice, and accountability to victims but it continues to get mired in the political in-fighting that beset such societies.  Transitional societies need to learn from previous attempts and build upon them to suit their own needs in the hope that they can transform into places where peace and reconciliation is achievable and long lasting.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Beyond the wall

This picture was taken from the Conway Mill complex just off the Falls Road a while ago.  It overlooks the so-called peaceline between the Falls, in the foreground, and the Shankill, behind the wall.  To me the imagery is stark.  The area just beyond the wall looks like a wasteland.  The children are playing with wooden pallets in a patch of land scarred by the annual bonfire.  The children on the Falls Road side enjoy a game of swingball on a nice child friendly surface.

It is no wonder that there is a perception among the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist (PUL) community that ‘themmuns get everything and we get nahin’.  But does it have to be this way?  Why does the PUL community continue to burn up their open spaces with toxic bonfires, year in year out?  I know it is part of their culture and I understand how important that is but there has to be a better way of celebrating their culture.  It is difficult to have nice clean open spaces when for a good part of the year it is littered with household waste, wood and tyres and then scarred with a charred black circle.

I remember our local boney burning bright every year on the 9th of August.  One of my earliest childhood memories is of rooting around the embers in the field the next morning looking for the plastic bullets that were fired during the annual riot which inevitably followed the all night drinking session.  I quite literally got my fingers burnt when I picked up a scalding hot bottle that was a bit too close to the charred remains.  During the late 80s the age old practice of bonfires fizzled out in West Belfast.  Local festivals took their place and we haven’t looked back.  They are not missed and the few that remain are viewed by the majority of people in our area as anti-social events.

Last year on the 11th of July I was driving up the Newtownards Road at about 12pm and was pleasantly surprised by the family atmosphere in the area.  Bouncy castles and fairground rides were full of happy children while the smell of barbeques and the sound of pop music blasting through massive PA systems filled the air.  Fast forward twelve hours to a different scene: with the drink flowing, the spark is lit on the toxic tyre-filled towering infernos, flames licking at the multitude of symbols associated with ‘themmuns’. 

There is something mystical about large bonfires.  It is a communal bonding experience.  It does not have to be done away with completely.  Certain areas have tried to adopt beacons in place of the bonfires.  This has to be welcomed.  Some responsible politicians and community leaders have tried to tackle the anti-social elements that are evident at the boneys but those who do so do this at some risk.  Talk of removing flags and symbols from the bonfires is met with the excuse that they would be prevented or even attacked by the alcohol fuelled spectators.  Does this threat mean that the bonfires are, in their present form, here to stay?  Do the blue bag boyos hold the power over the PUL community?

Will the children beyond the wall ever get a nice place to play?  If they could see through the wall would they want what the other kids have?  When will their local representatives ensure that they get this?  Or are they happy with this situation?  There seems to me to be no real political will to do anything about the bonfires.  The PUL community seems to want the bonfires.  They are well used to them by now; they have been burning for generations.  Is there another way though?  Why not do what we did in the West: you might be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Commemoration in a divided society

The following is an essay I memorised as revision for a recent exam around the issue of remembrance and commemoration in our post conflict society.  It is quite long but I hope you enjoy.

‘A concealed wound will never scab.’ (Levy, Haaretz Daily Newspaper, May 2015)

This essay will evaluate the concept of commemoration with a particular view on how we commemorate in a society emerging from political conflict.  I will discuss the meaning of commemoration as well as the way it is done in both the private and public realm. I will do this by giving examples of what certain theorists have written about the subject.  To address this question I will focus on the pros and cons of commemoration in deeply divided societies and how commemoration itself can become a political battlefield which can be corrosive to the victims of violence.  I will conclude with attempts to create a new vision of commemoration which views the past as something that can be changed for the better.

Remembering is for both the individual and for society.  It can be done in private and in public.  It can be intrapsychic and interpersonal.  Remembrance refers to the ability to recall past occurrences or to keep in mind some place, person, or event.  The Latin meaning of commemoration stems from com – altogether; and memorat – relate: to remember together.  Commemoration is remembrance in action.  It may be enacted as a ceremony or as a permanent memorial.  How we remember the past is determined by the nature of the past.  In wars fought between nations the acts of commemoration will be different than those fought intranationally.

The old adage ‘History is written by the winners’ stands the tests of time for much of what is put forward as historical fact.  The exploits of the winners and its heroes are mythologised with subsequent generations encouraged to revere them.  Hobsbawm echoes this maxim with the notion of ‘invented tradition’.  This is defined by a set of practices which are used to inculcate certain values such as loyalty, patriotism, and duty in order to cement group cohesion.  Certain memories are selected, popularised and institutionalised to fit the chosen narrative.  Historical memory is used as a method of control in the here and now.

Different dynamics can also determine how a society remembers its past.  Within deeply divided societies wracked by violence there is usually a contested narrative of who is to blame; who won; who lost; who should be remembered; and who should be forgotten.  In situations where there are no clear winners or losers this is especially evident. 

Northern Ireland is one such example.  The peace settlement in NI was a negotiated one.  The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a consociational agreement; a negotiated peace.  The matter of who won and lost was not settled.  This now plays out as a meta-conflict, a conflict about the conflict.  Different counter narratives run side by side.  There is no agreed master narrative upon which to remember and commemorate.  However this does not suppress commemoration or memorialisation.  Fitzgerald (2008) notes that, ‘Northern Ireland is living proof that commemoration is anything but repressed.  Every town, every village and every group in Northern Ireland has been engaged in some type of commemoration’.

This contestation can manifest itself in the arena of victimhood.  Victims and survivors get caught up in the ongoing meta-conflict; where the violence has ceased but the enmity lives on.  Victimhood get mired in what Buruma calls ‘the Olympics of suffering’; colloquially known in Northern Ireland as ‘whataboutery’.  The actual suffering of the victims themselves is disregarded for the arguments of ‘who’ is actually doing the suffering and ‘who’ caused it.  It is ostensibly a single identity issue suggests Nagle (2008).  Only ‘our’ group can be remembered and not ‘yours’ is the prominent discourse.  Nagle points out that despite several consultations into proposals for non-physical and physicals memorials to the victims of the ‘Troubles’ none have been implemented.

The ‘hierarchy of victimhood’ argument has contributed to this impasse claims Nagle.  Many victims and survivors cannot countenance any moral equivalence which says that dead paramilitaries are the same as their innocent loved ones.  ‘Terrorists’ are undeserving of victimhood recognition and therefore have no place on a memorial for victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland.  This is evident in the multiple and ongoing attempts to have the legal definition of a victim changed to exclude paramilitaries.

This divisive paradigm manifests itself in single identity memorialisation and memory performance notes Nagle.  This direction, Nagle argues, further perpetuates victimhood, with paramilitary modes of commemoration being the most intense.  Murals, parades, plaques, rolls of honour which invoke the horrors of the past and what Ricoeur calls ‘epoch-making’ events such as Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday or La Mon are used to reinforce the community’s consciousness of its identity and its narrative a la Hobsbawm.

The state is an important player in the politics of historical memory.  Structurally the state has significantly more power than individual citizens and can therefore control the acts of remembrance as well as who will be remembered and who will not be remembered.  Individuals can lose control of the memory or be silenced.  This loss of control is characteristic in societies transitioning from conflict.

The silenced are prevented from healthily mourning and remembering.  Lederach (1997) and Herman (1992) suggest that this is an integral part of the therapeutic, psycho-social, healing process for victims and survivors.  Without space to commemorate victims can stay rooted in, what Winter (1995) calls, ‘crushing melancholia’.

Attempts to supress commemoration can also be counter-productive.  A recent article in the Haaretz newspaper puts forward this view in respect of what Palestinians call the Nakba.  This refers to the period of Palestinian dispossession of their lands and homes during the creation of the state of Israel.  To date the minority Arab population within Israel is not given space to communally remember this ‘epoch-making’ event.  Contested history is forbidden.

The article claims that this stance by the Israeli state is proof of its insecurity about the justness of its cause; and that a people confident in its path would respect the feelings of the minority, and not try to trample on its heritage and memories.  Any reference to the Nakba is seen as an existential threat.

The battle for memory started immediately after it occurred.  All of the villages were destroyed and were covered with trees.  They prevented any mention of their existence.  The concept was one that would erase the memory of a people with trees and suppress its pain and consciousness with laws and force.  This country of monuments forbade any monument to the Nakba: forbade the people to mourn their loss.  Anyone with a rusty key, the symbol of the lost homes, is considered an enemy: any sign marking a destroyed village is an abomination.

The more Israel tries to supress the memory the stronger it gets.  The method is counter-productive. A concealed wound will never scab.  The Nakba lives strong in the Palestinian psyche.  It feeds into the sense of injustice and stymies any hopes for reconciliation.

Such problems with contested or suppressed memory call for a more nuanced solution argues McMaster (2008, 2012), who focuses on the history of memory in Ireland.  All history is selective and certain memories are selected to reinforce our identity in the present.  Different groups remember different traumas and commemorate different glories.  Many of these glories which involve the concept of redemptive violence are mythologised; the heroes sanctified.  The cult of the dead lives strong in Ireland.  The blood sacrifice by the ‘men’ of 1916 in the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising top the bill.  This continues down the years with the sanctification of Bobby Sands who died during the IRA Hunger Strike of 1981.

The memories of the leading figures of redemptive violence are invoked in today’s political sphere to gather votes and to bolster legitimacy by appealing to one side or the other.  The recent election result in the Fermanagh South Tyrone constituency is a case in point.  The successful unionist candidate claimed that ‘…this is not Bobby Sands’ seat’, much to the dismay of the republican side who had staked this claim when Sands won the seat in 1981.

McMaster appeals for the recovery of ‘lost voices’ as a counter story to the prominent discourse of commemorating acts of redemptive violence.  Subsequently, there have been calls to memorialise the forty children who died during the Easter Rising in 1916 as part of next year’s centenary commemorations.  These forgotten children, who lived mainly in the tenement slums and were caught in the crossfire, have had no place for remembrance in previous decades.

McMaster calls for an ‘ethical analysis’ of Irish history as a way building peace and reconciliation into the future.  Such an ethical analysis would probe, evaluate, critique history in a way that could promote a shared, common understanding of history.  To move beyond the sectarianisation of history and the exclusivity of commemoration.  To see past the victor/victim categories and the zero sum politics.

This could lead us into new, more positive and healing ways of memorialising out past.  Innovative inclusive attempts to commemorate the past in Northern Ireland are scant with one exception being Healing Through Remembering’s Day of Reflection (HTR 2007).  This project initiated a series of events to enable and encourage people to reflect on the conflict, on our own attitudes, and on how to ensure that the conflict can never happen again.

It may take decades for before any permanent physical memorial to all of the victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland could be erected.  Memorials such as Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Wall.  Such memorials, claims Hamber (2006), can provide ‘symbolic reparations’ and can help to ‘concretise a traumatic event, aid and individual to come to terms with it, and help label responsibility’.  Nagle views such memorials a focal point in the grieving process which allow a safe space for individuals to channel their emotions in a therapeutic way; as something to physically touch and make a symbolic exchange.

In conclusion, this essay has has given an overview of the concepts of remembrance and commemoration touching upon the need for both private and public acts.  I focused upon the power of commemoration in the politics of memory.  This is reflected in the struggles people face when attempting to commemorate in societies emerging from political conflict which manifests in the contestation of victimhood.  Some of this manifestation can be corrosive to victim recovery.  I gave examples of people pushing back against suppression.  McMaster asked us to invent a new history; a history free from the violent shackles of the past.  A future which embraces positive remembrance and commemoration.  A future of hope.

Statistics, damned statistics and lies! (sic)

For all of those who like to view the Troubles through the lens of 'who was the worst' by collating a scoreboard - here is another killing that you can take out of the IRA column and put into the STATE column.
This type of 'scientific' reading of our recent history is seriously flawed when we uncover more and more evidence of collusion and subterfuge. Placing blame and responsibility into convenient bar charts and line graphs is a crude way of looking at our history. It ignores the human stories and the complexity. It just serves the needs of those who revel in the useless circular arguments we know fondly as 'whataboutery'. "We were bad, but we weren't as bad as themmuns" is the mantra.
More evidence will be uncovered. The bar charts will be amended. The lines on the graphs will get closer. However we are still left with the realities of lost lives and broken families that scientific methods cannot value. I suggest we put all of the killings and injuries into one big pie chart with one colour (red would do fine) which will represent the equality of harm and suffering. Take away the 'who' did 'what' to 'whom' and focus only on the 'what'. 'What' are we going to do about the needs of those who are left? That is the question.

Collusion: a lesson from history?

The recent upsurge in interest around collusion has me thinking about the claim from the securocrats and their apologists that the agents they controlled were actually saving lives and that the ends justified the means.  The means being that these agents were given carte blanche to carry out whatever criminal acts they desired so long as their cover was not blown.  This was the thinking that led to so many deaths and injuries: this we know.  What we don’t know is how many lives were saved.

However this is not the point.  All of the potential lives saved cannot justify the lives that were ruined by the actions of those who were supposed to be protecting us.  Maybe the powers that be should have taken a lesson from their predecessors in the Royal Irish Constabulary.  I am reading a book at the minute (Irish Conspiracies – Frederick Moir Bussy, 1910) which chronicles the life of John Mallon, a senior detective in the RIC at the end of the 19th Century.  He controlled a network of informers within the secret societies of Ireland.  Societies like the Fenians, the Invincibles and the Land Leaguers.

Mallon had a more unconventional way of doing things.  He preferred to ‘nip things in the bud’.  He was ‘… ever keen to preserve the life and liberty […] of the would-be felon’.  ‘His first consideration, however, was to spare innocent persons and families the bitterness and pain of personal injury and bereavement’.  His primary objective was the prevention of crime. 

Mallon chose to ‘prevent outrage and social convulsion by timely warning – in contradistinction to the laying of traps for intended criminals’.  He even tipped off a potential plotter that he knew of a conspiracy to kill Mallon himself.  He wanted to save the ‘evilly inclined from wrongdoing’.

If only our protectors had followed the Mallon route and prevented crimes instead of directing them.  If only…