Ultima Ratio, is the Principle at Risk?: Editors’ Introduction

5 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2013

See all articles by Joxerramon Bengoetxea

Joxerramon Bengoetxea

Universidad del País Vasco (UPV/EHU); Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law

Heike Jung

Saarland University

Kimmo Nuotio

Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 7, 2013

Abstract

Ultima ratio as a normative principle, or a constellation of principles, would be a hermeneutic pre-understanding or pre-interpretative concept to the effect that the definition of a certain socially relevant conduct as a crime and the consequent infliction of a penal sanction on the perpetrator of such conduct is a serious matter to be handled with caution and not to be abused. Similarly, the emergence of new definitions of 'European' crimes is a matter of concern. The risk referred to in the rhetoric question of the Workshop 'Is the ultima ratio principle at risk?' lies in the non-observance of the principle of minimal intervention, the tendency to criminalize and to bring all or any socially – even politically – undesirable actions under the criminal law, and to use the criminal definition and sanction for purposes and situations other than the strictly necessary – principle of necessity – and universally shared – principle of deep social consensus.

Ultima ratio como un principio normativo, o una constelación de principios, sería un concepto heurístico, una comprensión o pre-interpretación hermenéutica, a fin de que la definición como “delito” de determinada conducta socialmente relevante, y la consecuente imposición de una sanción penal al causante de dicha conducta es un asunto serio que debe tratarse con cautela, y del que no se debiera abusar. El 'riesgo' mencionado en la pregunta retórica del seminario '¿Está el principio de ultima ratio en riesgo?' se encuentra en la falta de observación del principio de intervención mínima del derecho penal, en la tendencia a criminalizar y a reconducir las acciones socialmente, incluso políticamente, indeseables bajo el derecho penal, y a abusar de la definición penal o tipificación y de la sanción penal cubriendo finalidades y situaciones diferentes de las estrictamente necesarias, principio de necesidad, y de las universalmente compartidas, principio de consenso social profundo.

Keywords: ultima ratio, European criminal law, minimal intervention, decriminalisation, criminalisation, criminal sanctions, proportionality of criminal sanctions, abuse of punishment, ultima ratio, derecho penal europeo, intervención mímica, despenalización, penalización, sanciones penales, proporcionalidad

Suggested Citation

Bengoetxea, Joxerramon and Jung, Heike and Nuotio, Kimmo, Ultima Ratio, is the Principle at Risk?: Editors’ Introduction (February 7, 2013). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2213166

Joxerramon Bengoetxea (Contact Author)

Universidad del País Vasco (UPV/EHU) ( email )

Barrio Sarriena s/n
Leioa, Bizkaia 48940
Spain

Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law ( email )

Avenida de la Universidad, nr.8
20560 Oñati
Spain

Heike Jung

Saarland University ( email )

Stadtwald
Saarbrucken, Saarland D-66123
Germany

Kimmo Nuotio

Faculty of Law ( email )

Porthania 5th Floor
P.O. Box 4
Helsinki, FIN-0001 4
Finland

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