Term Paper: Criminal Justice Legal Issues International Law

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Criminal Justice Legal Issues

International Law

Legal Systems

There are four types of Legal Systems in existence in the modern world: civil law, common law, customary law, and religious law. All four types of legal systems have lengthy histories and share some common elements. In addition, one can see the overlapping influence of different legal systems in each different type. In fact, some countries actually have hybrid legal systems. The most common pure legal systems are those based on civil law, which derived from the Roman system of law and is associated with much of Europe and lands that were once under European control. The least common pure legal system is the religious system, though religious influences can be seen in almost every other type of legal system.

Those countries associated with the civil law draw on a Roman legal heritage and give precedence to written law and legal codes. (University of Ottowa, Civil law, 2007). These countries rely on statutes to provide legal guidance, rather than precedents; therefore, legislation is the primary source of law. If there is an area of law without established laws, the legislature is given the responsibility of developing those laws and courts do not have the power to draw upon related areas of the law to develop new legal rules. Countries with pure civil law systems include: Azores, Albania, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Holy See (Vatican), Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakstan, Kirgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Martinique, Mayotte, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna. (University of Ottawa, Civil law, 2007).

Those countries associated with the common law are based on precedent and find their roots in English law. Common law systems give their judges the power to establish law and lower courts are required to follow those decisions. Therefore, the source of the law is custom and even in areas where there are no statutes there may be guiding laws. Legislatures continue to have the power and ability to make laws, but courts have the power to make law, not simply interpret it. More importantly, though the laws in common law countries have often been written and codified, it is the fact that judicial decisions initially formed those laws that separate common law countries from civil law countries. Common law countries include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Fiji Islands, Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Montserrat, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue Island, Norfolk Island Northern Ireland, Palau, Pitcairn Islands, Saint-Helen's, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guam, Hawaii, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Isle of Man, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the Virgin Islands. (University of Ottawa, Common law, 2007).

Because Europe colonized so much of the word, civil law and common law systems and their hybrids constitute the majority of legal systems in the world. However, an additional type of legal systems merits discussion: the customary legal system. Customary legal systems rely on tradition rather than positive law. In other words, when a nation or people recognize that something is legal or illegal, then it becomes a law without the requirement of codification or other vestiges of positive law. Only three modern countries can be considered to have wholly customary legal systems: Andorra, Guernsey Island, and Jersey Island. (University of Ottowa, Customary law, 2007). However, custom influences the legal systems of many countries, especially those in Africa.

The final type of legal system is the religious legal system. Religious legal systems base their authority in religion. Most countries' laws are influenced by religion, but only two countries have pure religious systems: Afganistan, and Maldives Islands. Both of those countries follow Islamic law. However, Islam also has a tremendous influence on the legal systems of many countries: Algeria, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Syria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia. (University of Ottowa, Muslim law, 2007). follow Islamic law. However, Islam also has a tremendous influence on the legal systems of many countries: Algeria, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Syria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, Djibouti, Eritrea, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Brunei, Gambia, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Iran, Jordan, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia. (University of Ottowa, Muslim law, 2007). Furthermore, some countries incorporate elements of Jewish law into their legal systems. The most obvious example of this incorporation is Israel, but, in many countries, two Jewish people can agree to forego secular justice and allow their dispute to be resolved by a religious leader and from a religious point-of-view.

Transnational Crimes

In today's social and political climates, one has to realize the tremendous impact that international crimes can have on domestic safety and welfare. Transnational crime generally refers to organized international crime activities. The most common types of transnational crime include "drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings; trafficking in firearms; smuggling of migrants; money laundering; etc." (United Nations, 2007). Of these crimes, drug trafficking may be the most well-known and the most lucrative, although trafficking in humans is approaching the same type of epidemic status as drug trafficking.

Drug trafficking refers to the illegal sale of psychoactive substances, whether because those drugs are outlawed or whether the transaction involves the illegal transfer of legal drugs. One of the more interesting aspects of drug trafficking is that it is a crime of geography more than morals or recognized legal standards. Not all countries have outlawed the sale and use of the same drugs; therefore, a drug that is illegal in one country may be considered a valuable cash crop in another country. Such a scenario is not rare, because the countries plagued the most by drug use and abuse are the consumer countries, which generally do not produce the drugs. Drugs are generally grown and manufactured in financially depressed countries, where consumers could not afford drug addiction and where growing drug crops can be financially necessary for farmers.

Trafficking in firearms is another very serious transnational crime issue. Oftentimes the trafficked firearms have originated as army supplies, which have made their way into the hands of civilian populations. Illegal firearms trafficking has both national and international repercussions. Nationally, firearms are involved in about 29% of all violent crimes. (Reno, 2000). Internationally, illegally trafficked firearms are involved in domestic crime and even play a major role in wars and terrorism.

Drug and weapons trafficking are relatively recent crimes, but one of the more pervasive international crime problems has co-existed with civil society: human trafficking. The buying and selling of human beings is at least as old as written history, and the legality of such action has changed with social conventions and mores. However, slavery is officially outlawed in the modern world, which makes the magnitude of human trafficking even more astounding. Human trafficking is estimated to be the second most lucrative form of worldwide illegal activity, following only drug trafficking. While humans are bought and sold for all purposes, the main result of human trafficking is to increase sex workers. People are bought and sold in all nations, but the majority of victims come from financially depressed areas. Sometimes people are sold by their families, who are frequently unaware of the actual conditions that their children face. The problem of human trafficking is so pervasive that some areas, like Thailand, have become synonymous with the sex trade and sex tourism. The vast majority of the workers in these brothels are victims of human trafficking. Even more alarming is the fact that the presence of UN and NATO peacekeeping forces has been positively linked to human trafficking, and several peacekeepers have been implicated in this illegal activity. Domestically, children are kidnapped and sold into the sex trade. Human trafficking victims are not always sold into prostitution. In some countries, children are forced into dangerous sport, while, in others, children are forcibly conscripted and sold into armies. One of the other forms of human trafficking is linked to the human smuggling trade, and results in illegal immigrants being forced to work in sweatshops and under other deplorable labor conditions to work off the costs of being smuggled.

In fact, it can be difficult to discern between human smuggling and human trafficking, because the means used to transport the victims are often the same. Furthermore, smugglers, like traffickers, are motivated by profit. However, smugglers differ from traffickers in that smugglers simply charge a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Criminal Justice Legal Issues International Law.  (2007, April 24).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/criminal-justice-legal-issues-international/796254

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"Criminal Justice Legal Issues International Law."  Essaytown.com.  April 24, 2007.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
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