One surprising reason the poor don't get justice in developing countries

by Napp Nazworth , Christian Post Reporter |

(Rodrigo Valera Photography)International Justice Mission CEO Gary Haugen speaking at Faith Angle Forum, Miami Beach, Florida, April 1, 2019.

Among the many reasons poor people have difficulty getting protection in the justice systems of developing countries, one surprising factor has gone largely unnoticed, International Justice Mission CEO Gary Haugen explained.

A "massively underreported and underdiscussed phenomenon" has hindered justice for the poor, Haugen told a group of journalists.

"Two words ... that keeps the thing completely hidden — private security."

Haugen was speaking about "Global Poverty and Injustice: Taking the Long View" at an April 1 Faith Angle Forum.

How can nations like India have high economic growth yet a dysfunctional justice system, Haugen asked rhetorically. How are large corporations able to operate in nations with high levels of violence?

"So in India, for example, the private security forces are four times larger than the public police force. In the developing world, private security forces are between five and seven times larger than the public police force. The largest employer on the continent of Africa now is private security. This suddenly makes us understand, oh, this is how this all stays below the radar and doesn't get better because the people of wealth and power have abandoned the public system," he said.

Haugen compared the situation to when wealthy people put their kids in private schools.

"It's sort of what happens to schools or transportation systems when the people of wealth and influence leave the public system. They don't even know that it's broken. They don't even know that it's not working," he said.

In advanced economies, Haugen explained, businesses invest in public justice systems. So most of their security comes from public law enforcement. But in the developing world, they invest in private security.

"So there are two tiers: a collection of people who can afford to move forward economically because they're safe in private security, then all those who cannot afford private security who are living in lawless chaos," he said.

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