Crime Policy between Effective Crime Control and Human Rights Protection

author: Alenka Šelih, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
published: Oct. 30, 2009,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 3918

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Crime policy has been facing the dilemma of whether human rights standards should be upheld or the effectiveness strengthened for quite some time. For the Central and East European countries this dilemma is of particular importance because human rights have been the motivating factor in the processes of the 1990ies democratization. Social changes that occurred after the 1990ies have coincided with an ongoing change in crime policy in the “free world”: the liberal and humane crime policy has been slowly replaced by just desert, law and order and other more punitive policies in this field. Crime policy developments in the last decade, especially after 9/11, have been especially oriented towards achieving greater effectiveness – also at the cost of human rights. Crime policies in different European countries have adopted measures that either diminished human rights standards; in some cases, zone of criminality has been extended beyond criminal offences; in others, law enforcements measures can be applied to persons very remotely connected or not connected at all to the criminal offence. Policies and measures, clearly disregarding human rights standards, have been taken by legislative as well as executive authorities at the European as well as at national levels. The economic crisis may be the testing point for future orientation of crime policy: is it going into a fully punitive direction, or may it be oriented towards its earlier goals – effectiveness by respecting human rights standards – in new ways?

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