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Case Notes

The Constitutional Court of Hungary on the Borderlines of Blasphemy

A Note on Two Recent Cases

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords blasphemy, freedom of speech, protection of dignity, protection of religion, Hungary
Authors Balázs Schanda
AbstractAuthor's information

    Blasphemy used to be a criminal offence in traditional legal systems. Although offending the transcendent is not criminalized in most Western legal systems, free speech must respect the dignity of others. Religious conviction constitutes an inherent part of dignity. The protection against hate speech offending the dignity of members i.e. of religious communities may include criminal sanctions in extreme cases. The new Civil Code of Hungary (2013) enables the bringing of a civil lawsuit for hate speech. After years of litigation the first two cases where litigants claimed their dignity violated by offensive images have reached the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court guaranteed protection of religious identity on the one hand, on the other hand, it upheld the freedom of political speech even when using a religious symbol. Degrading religion offends all members of the religious community, criticism of the religiosity of public actors, however, is protected by the freedom of speech.


Balázs Schanda
Balázs Schanda: professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; justice, Constitutional Court of Hungary, Budapest.
Article

Access_open Enemy of All Humanity

The Dehumanizing Effects of a Dangerous Concept

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2018
Keywords enemy of all humanity, hostis humani generis, piracy, international criminal law, Luban
Authors Marc de Wilde
AbstractAuthor's information

    In his contribution to this special issue, David Luban proposes to revive the age-old concept of ‘the enemy of all humanity.’ On his view, this concept supports the aims of international criminal justice by emphasizing that atrocity and persecution crimes are ‘radically evil’ and therefore ‘everyone’s business.’ Criticizing Luban’s proposal, this paper shows that in the past, the ‘enemy of all humanity’ concept has often served to establish parallel systems of justice, depriving these ‘enemies’ of their rights as suspects under criminal law and as lawful combatants under the laws of war. Thus, even if the ‘enemy of all humanity’ concept is used with the intention to bring today’s perpetrators of ‘radical evil’ to justice, it risks undermining, rather than protecting, the rule of law.


Marc de Wilde
Marc de Wilde is Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open The Enemy of All Humanity

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2018
Keywords hostis generis humani, piracy, crimes against humanity, universal jurisdiction, radical evil
Authors David Luban
AbstractAuthor's information

    Trationally, the term “enemy of all humanity” (hostis generis humani) referred to pirates. In contemporary international criminal law, it refers to perpetrators of crimes against humanity and other core. This essay traces the evolution of the concept, and then offers an analysis that ties it more closely to ancient tyrants than to pirates. Some object that the label is dehumanizing, and justifies arbitrary killing of the “enemy of humanity.” The essay admits the danger, but defends the concept if it is restricted to fair trials. Rather than dehumanizing its target, calling the hostis generis humani to account in a court of law is a way of recognizing that radical evil can be committed by humans no different from any of us.


David Luban
David Luban is University Professor in Law and Philosophy at Georgetown University.
Article

Access_open E pluribus unum? The Manifold Meanings of Sovereignty

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2016
Keywords political sovereignty, power, legislative sovereignty, constitutive power, external sovereignty
Authors Raf Geenens
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article investigates and classifies the different meanings of the term sovereignty. What exactly do we try to convey when using the words “sovereign” or “sovereignty”? I will argue that, when saying that X is sovereign, we can mean five different things: it can mean that X holds the capacity to force everyone into obedience, that X makes the laws, that the legal and political order is created by X, that X holds the competence to alter the basic norms of our legal and political order, or that X is independently active on the international stage. These different usages of the term are of course related, but they are distinct and cannot be fully reduced to one another.


Raf Geenens
Raf Geenens is an assistant professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven.

Levente Nyakas
Head of institute, Institute for Media Studies of the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority.

András Zs. Varga
Professor of public law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University Faculty of Law and Political Sciences; Judge, Hungarian Constitutional Court.
Article

Access_open Harmony, Law and Criminal Reconciliation in China: A Historical Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2016
Keywords Criminal reconciliation, Confucianism, decentralisation, centralisation
Authors Wei Pei
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2012, China revised its Criminal Procedure Law (2012 CPL). One of the major changes is its official approval of the use of victim-offender reconciliation, or ‘criminal reconciliation’ in certain public prosecution cases. This change, on the one hand, echoes the Confucian doctrine that favours harmonious inter-personal relationships and mediation, while, on the other hand, it deviates from the direction of legal reforms dating from the 1970s through the late 1990s. Questions have emerged concerning not only the cause of this change in legal norms but also the proper position of criminal reconciliation in the current criminal justice system in China. The answers to these questions largely rely on understanding the role of traditional informal dispute resolution as well as its interaction with legal norms. Criminal reconciliation in ancient China functioned as a means to centralise imperial power by decentralizing decentralising its administration. Abolishing or enabling such a mechanism in law is merely a small part of the government’s strategy to react to political or social crises and to maintain social stability. However, its actual effect depends on the vitality of Confucianism, which in turn relies on the economic foundation and corresponding structure of society.


Wei Pei
Wei Pei, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Beihang School of Law in the Beihang University.

    This paper interprets the presumption of innocence as a conceptual antidote for sacrificial tendencies in criminal law. Using Girard’s philosophy of scapegoat mechanisms and sacrifice as hermeneutical framework, the consanguinity of legal and sacrificial order is explored. We argue that some legal concepts found in the ius commune’s criminal system (12th-18th century), like torture, infamy, or punishment for mere suspicion, are affiliated with scapegoat dynamics and operate, to some extent, in the spirit of sacrifice. By indicating how these concepts entail more or less flagrant breaches of our contemporary conception of due process molded by the presumption of innocence, an antithesis emerges between the presumption of innocence and sacrificial inclinations in criminal law. Furthermore, when facing fundamental threats like heresy, the ius commune’s due process could be suspended. What emerges in this state of exception allowing for swift and relentless repression, is elucidated as legal order’s sacrificial infrastructure.


Rafael Van Damme
Rafael Van Damme is PhD-student in philosophy.

    In this article, we inquire the merits of criminalizing blasphemy. We argue that religious views do not warrant a separate treatment compared to nonreligious ones. In addition, freedom of speech must be balanced against the interest of those who may be aggrieved by blasphemous remarks. We conclude that penalizing blasphemy is undesirable. It is fortunate, in that light, that acts of blasphemy have recently been decriminalized in The Netherlands by removing blasphemy as an offense from the Criminal Code. Still, other provisions appear to leave enough room to reach the same result, making the removal a possibly virtually aesthetic change. In the international context, it would be regrettable for The Netherlands to forgo the opportunity to take a leading role.


Jasper Doomen
Jasper Doomen is verbonden als docent/onderzoeker aan de afdeling Encyclopedie van de Rechtswetenschap van de Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Universiteit Leiden.

Mirjam van Schaik
Mirjam van Schaik is verbonden als docent/onderzoeker aan de afdeling Encyclopedie van de Rechtswetenschap van de Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Universiteit Leiden.
Article

Democracy, Constitutionalism and Shariah

The Compatibility Question

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2014
Authors A.T. Shehu
Abstract

    This article is a contribution and a response to the debate on the compatibility, or rather the incompatibility, of Islam and Shariah with democracy and constitutionalism. The debate has been both inter and intra; Muslims as well as non-Muslims are divided among themselves on the issue. A careful synthesis of the arguments on both sides shows fundamental problems of semantics and lack of proper appreciation of the issues involved because of divergent construction of the basic rules and normative concepts. This article identifies as a problem the tendency for cultural prejudice and intolerance to largely determine the direction of the debate and endure not only a ‘clash of civilizations’, but also, in reality, a clash of normative concepts. This article contends that Islam is more democratic in nature and that Shariah itself is a system of constitutionalism; needless to say, the objectionists have long forgotten that, in essential formulations, Shariah is the foundation of thoughts on human rights.


A.T. Shehu
Article

Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Islam

A Review of Laws Regarding ‘Offences Relating to Religion’ in Pakistan from a Domestic and International Law Perspective

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2014
Keywords blasphemy, apostasy, freedom of religion, Ahmadi, minority rights in Pakistan
Authors Ujala Akram
AbstractAuthor's information

    During the struggle for a separate homeland, named Pakistan, for Muslims who were the then religious minority in British India, a promise was inevitably made that the religious minorities will enjoy freedom to hold and practice their belief in this new country. The promise was kept in all three Constitutions of Pakistan where minorities were given the right to practice their religion. However, the subsequent amendments to the Constitution were made with the presumption that Pakistan was created to establish an Islamic State, which stifled the freedom of religion and belief of the religious minorities. In the absence of a domestic mechanism to protect the freedom of religion in Pakistan, international law was supposed to play a major role in the protection of the same. Unfortunately, international law, owing to the lack of sanctions and mechanism to implement the law, proved to be weak in this case. However, through an amalgamation of international law, international pressure, amendments to existing laws and promulgation of new laws to protect the religious freedom of minorities in Pakistan – the minorities may be able to enjoy the freedom of religion as it was envisioned while fighting for the independence of Pakistan.


Ujala Akram
LLM 2007, S.J.D. Candidate, Indiana University McKinney School of Law.
Article

Access_open The Collapse of the Rule of Law

The Messina Earthquake and the State of Exception

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2012
Keywords Messina, earthquake, state of exception, rule of law, progress
Authors Massimo La Torre
AbstractAuthor's information

    Messina, a Sicilian town, was devasteted by an earthquake in1908. It was an hecatomb. Stricken through this unfathomable disgrace Messina’s institutions and civil society collapsed and a sort of wild natural state replaced the rule of law. In this situation there was a first intervention of the Russian Czarist navy who came to help but immediately enforced cruel emergency measures. The Italian army followed and there was a formal declaration of an ‘emergency situation.’ Around this event and the several exceptional measures taken by the government a debate took place about the legality of those exceptional measures. The article tries to reconstruct the historical context and the content of that debate and in a broader perspective thematizes how law (and morality) could be brought to meet the breaking of normality and ordinary life by an unexpected and catastrophic event.


Massimo La Torre
Massimo La Torre is Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Catanzaro in Italy and visiting Professor of Law at the University of Hull in England.
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