What is impunity?

We explain what impunity is and some examples of this judicial term. In addition, what is immunity and imputability.

  1. What is impunity?

Impunity is the impossibility of being sanctioned . It is an exception of conviction or a way to escape justice . It is common in some countries where a clean political system is lacking and has a corrupt and weak judicial system.

Etymologically, it comes from the Latin word impunitas . This is the resulting circumstance by not receiving a punishment or not being judged . And when talking about punishment, it is a penalty or sentence that has been imposed and that the defendant must comply with for having intervened in a criminal act.

There is talk of impunity when the accused of committing a particular crime does not receive the penalty due for his actions. Therefore, his behavior is not amended , nor does he learn from it. It is then that the maneuver of evasion of punishment – or impunity – occurs for political or other reasons, and he who is accused of transgressing the law, receives no punishment or conviction.

Recall that the main reason for designing a system of punishment for the guilty within the justice system and depending on each country, is not only to make the offender think about the evil that caused others / s, but also The conviction of the accused – arbitrary – is, in a way, an act of reparation towards the victim.

The impunity usually be associated with very rich and with great heritage , as they generally perform maneuvers to avoid tax evasion precisely pay taxes that belong to their big profits . All this moved by great ambition.

In the cases of impunity that resonate today, they give us a feeling of failure and voracious helplessness as we glimpse the inaction of justice, especially with those we know through the news . Knowing ourselves unprotected, without a justice system that offers us the assurance that crimes are judged and punished, causes these thoughts to be born in us. What would you feel if a friend is murdered and his murderer is free due to lack of evidence or corruption to the judge and jury?

  1. Examples of impunity

In the event that a gold seller who scams their buyers , the victims hire good lawyers and these, according to the Criminal Code that governs the laws of each country, argue that the offender is judged and ask, presenting evidence and taking it to trial, an appropriate sentence that can cover up to four years, depending on each country.

The judge who takes the case will be responsible for approving the sentence, after viewing the evidence and receiving testimony from witnesses and others involved. But in the case of impunity, the judge, following the example given above, considers that there is insufficient evidence to condemn the accused and leaves him free , declaring him innocent. The victims, represented by their lawyers, argue that it is impunity and that, probably, the judge received money of doubtful origin, in order to obtain their freedom.

Importantly, impunity is not always about corruption in the justice system. There are cases in which criminals carry out what is considered the “perfect crime” , which leaves no clues and this influences the cases being declared unpunished.

  1. Impunity, immunity and imputability

Immunity is related to a person being exempt from convictions.

We have already described in previous paragraphs what refers to impunity, but it is necessary to differentiate two other concepts that are often confused with it and / or used as synonyms for the word impunity , since they are also used within the legal field: immunity and imputability .

The imputability is what a person performs as a result of lack of will , reason, etc. This concept has a psychological basis and is related to the legal field, since there are beings that act without will or awareness of the magnitude of the fact that is being committed. Therefore, it is declared unimputable who, when committing the fact, is not in their right mind.

The immunity relates to a person is free of convictions , penalties and other charges when committing a crime. Immunity is present in, for example, priests and in the people they serve within the Church.

Therefore, the words that we often use as synonyms when we want to say that someone is unpunished, have some points where they touch each other, but they are, from their base, different.

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