WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- There are disturbing signs of different levels of commitment by European and North American democracies to the principles underpinning the rule of law.
We are accustomed to reading daily reports of abuse of the rule of law in emerging democracies and authoritarian states in Eurasia and the developing world. A case in point is the trial and imprisonment of Ukrainian opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which is viewed throughout the Western world as an egregious example of selective use of justice by a vengeful and authoritarian regime.
Tymoshenko was charged with "abuse of office," receiving a prison sentence of seven years imprisonment and a three-year ban from public office. Selective use of justice in Ukraine has frozen the country's path to integration into Europe and signing of a ground breaking Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement are on hold until political prisoners are released.
Countries already in the European Union have Untouchable elites operating beyond the law.
In the last few months Britain has been rocked by the disgrace of well-known celebrity Jimmy Savile, who had access to the highest levels of British society and entertained British royalty in his homes. Savile, who died last year, was the archetypal Untouchable whose pedophilia was well-known since the 1970s but never led to criminal charges. Police passed over the opportunity to arrest Savile in the 1970s, 1980s and even four years ago after he was accused of abuse of under-age girls.
To give credit to the British justice system and the BBC an investigation into Savile and other pedophiles is under way and their hundreds of victims may finally see justice served.
In Italy the rule of law has always been more precarious particularly in the south where organized crime remains entrenched. But, here there is also a new wind of change.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a long-time serial sexual philanderer, is under investigation for paying Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug (also known by the stage name Ruby Rubacuor for sexual services when she was under the age of 18. Berlusconi is also charged with abuse of office after he used his influence to pressure police to release her.
The situation in The Netherlands remains far bleaker.
On Oct. 4, the U.S. Helsinki Commission, an independent U.S. government agency created in 1976 to monitor OSCE commitments, had a hearing entitled "Listening to Victims of Child Sex Trafficking." USHC Chairman Chris Smith testified that Joris Demmink, secretary-general of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, has been accused by witnesses in Amsterdam and Turkey of pedophilia with boys aged 11-15.
In countries with the rule of law every citizen, including Demmink, has a right to be presumed innocent before proven guilty. Nevertheless, no criminal investigation of the serious allegations have ever been undertaken by Dutch authorities and, in the words of Smith, "The investigation into these accusations was suddenly and inexplicably halted, and law enforcement officials involved were allegedly sworn to secrecy."
U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, repeated claims made by others inside The Netherlands and outside, that Demmink had used his influence to obstruct investigations into his sexual tourism. Demmink also allegedly intimidated witnesses and journalists to refrain from continuing their investigations.
Dutch authorities have never interviewed three key witnesses in the allegations.
The first, Turkish policeman Mehmet Korkmaz, claims that in the 1990s he abducted boys for Demmink to sexually assault. The second, former Chief of Police of Istanbul Necdet Menzir, alleges Demmink was in Turkey in the 1990s when his officers were assigned to protect him. Demmink has always denied he visited Turkey at the time. The third, Huseyin Celebi, was a senior Turkish intelligence official who in 2006 wrote a report on Demmink's sexual tourism in Turkey during the 1990s and early 2000s. Celebi alleges that Demmink used aliases to visit Turkey.
At the USHC hearing, Smith stated the lack of investigations "makes the Dutch Justice Ministry look like an ostrich with its head in the sand."
Without full investigations of the allegations the commitment of The Netherlands to EU Decision 2004/68/JHA to combat sexual exploitation of children and child pornography is thrown into doubt.
The Dutch Ministry of Justice led by Demmink since 2002 claimed for many years that propagation of pedophilia and child pornography is protected by Dutch law and tolerated Vereniging Martijn, which campaigned for the legalization of sex between adults and children. Finally, after years of state protection, a Dutch court in June ordered Vereniging Martijn to disband.
After seven decades under Soviet totalitarianism the absence of the rule of law in non-EU member states such as Ukraine is not altogether surprising. Italy and The Netherlands, who are founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community established in 1952 as the precursor of the European Union, should set better examples to the outside world.
Lack of trust in the Dutch legal system will turn away tourists, foreign students and overseas investors. Dutch citizens should ask themselves why the liberal reputation of The Netherlands should be held hostage by a small cabal of Untouchables who refuse to investigate these serious charges against high ranking government officials.
(Taras Kuzio is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Relations, Johns Hopkins University, Washington. In 2011-12 he was a visiting senior fellow at the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, Japan.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)