Criminal Responsibility of Political Parties for Economic Crime: Democracy on Test
Van Duyne, P.C. et al. (eds.), The 15th Cross-border Crime Colloquium of The Criminal Policy Research Centre "The Relativity of Wrongdoing : Corruption, organized crime, fraud and money laundering in perspective": proceedings, Wolf Legal Publishers, Oisterwijk, 2015
Posted: 27 Jan 2017
Date Written: February 1, 2015
Economic crimes are the most common type of crimes committed by political parties and among these the most important is political corruption. There is hardly any country in the world that has been immune to corruption scandals involving ruling political parties. Their collective will to power and lack of fear of possible consequences of their acts, makes it difficult to discipline them. Until now countries did not find a way to adequately address the criminal responsibility of political parties. The presented judgment in the Croatian CDU case is a precedent that can be used as a new model to address responsibility of political parties for economic crimes. Challenges that political corruption poses for society and democracy are large- scale, however, this new model also brings more challenges for democracy. This does not mean we should give up or substantially limit the criminal responsibility of political parties. Certain safeguards are already provided by obstacles in investigating, prosecuting, convicting and punishing political parties for criminal offences, such as e.g. immunity, abolition, amnesty, pardon, law amendments etc. However, it is necessary to determinate the correct balance in the spectrum of their application in order not to lead to a condition of irresponsible political structures. After evaluating certain sanctions that can be imposed on political parties, it seems that a fine is the most acceptable punishment for political parties in cases of economic crimes. Sanction of dissolution is generally considered to be inappropriate for political parties and especially too harsh for economic crimes. Some national legal systems tend to generally exempt political parties from this sanction, as it is the case in Croatia. The reason for this is to avoid possible threats of criminal proceedings to democracy, in which a ruling political party could use criminal prosecutions to exert pressure on or even eliminate opposition parties. Confiscation and compensation are sanctions of crucial importance in order to satisfy the principle that crime doesn’t pay. Criminal procedure is an appropriate forum to resolve the issues arising from the illegally obtained assets from crimes committed by political parties, because civil proceedings completely depend on the initiatives of the damaged persons.
Keywords: criminal responsibility; political parties; economic crimes; Croatian Democratic Union
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