Misérables Solutions to 'Famine Theft'
This isn't what they mean by balancing the scales of justice
Where's Victor Hugo when you need him? Two nations this week came up with two radically different solutions to the age-old question of whether starving people are justified in stealing food to feed themselves and their families.
Venezuela has not yet wholly decriminalized the act, but Supreme Court Judge Alejandro Angulo Fontiveros is in charge of drafting changes to the country's penal code, and has proposed a clause allowing the hungry to steal food and medicine.
"This is a guide for judges to avoid injustice," Fontiveros told Reuters. "They lock up for years a poor person who lives in atrocious misery and what they need is medicine." (It's not the only controversial change, Reuters notes: Other proposals would allow abortion and euthanasia.)
It goes without saying that critics argue such a move would encourage theft, even if it applies only to nonviolent crimes.
About 20 percent of Venezuela's 25 million population can't afford basic food needs, says the government. Private analysts say the figure is even higher.
In North Korea, however, nearly the whole country is starving. "Hundreds of thousands" have died in the country's famine, Amnesty International reported this week—and not all of them as a direct result of malnutrition.
"Some North Koreans, who were motivated by hunger to steal food grains or livestock, have been publicly executed," Amnesty International researcher Rajiv Narayan told the Associated Press. "Public notices advertised the executions, and school children were forced to watch the shootings or hangings."
The Amnesty International report says the group "has received reports that indicate that public executions have declined" since the famine's peak ...
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