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Stolen wages, corruption, and selective application of the law: Is APUNCAC a solution?

Notley, A. and Hodge, B. (2022) Stolen wages, corruption, and selective application of the law: Is APUNCAC a solution? Laws, 11 (2). Article 18.

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APUNCAC is a draft international convention designed to address systemic corruption, strengthening UNCAC’s provisions and adding mechanisms to make it more effective. ‘Corruption’ includes public officials abusing their powers. This article addresses an especially insidious form: when laws are created and applied to deny equal protection under the law. Ruling elites control the executive and parliament, to pass laws that selectively target and disadvantage a segment of the population. Our empirical data comes from a historical case, massive government-sanctioned wage theft from Western Australian Aboriginal workers between 1901 and 1972. We use these data to analyse how this kind of corruption works in practice, to evaluate APUNCAC’s measures and strategies, to see what specific measures might be used or modified, and where APUNCAC might need supplementing. We argue that Article 4(3) could have a major impact, especially supported by other Articles and processes, such as dedicated independent courts and strategic engagement with local courts. We evaluate two scenarios: The first scenario is prospective, assuming that APUNCAC is adopted. We evaluate the possible impact of APUNCAC in deterring future corruption involving selective application of the law. The second scenario is retrospective. We evaluate the possible support that APUNCAC might provide regarding court actions that seek redress for potential litigants, such as WA Aboriginal people who were injured in the past.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Law and Criminology
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors
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