Human Rights and Criminal Law: From Beccaria's On Crimes and Punishments to Modern Criminal Law
Re-Reading Beccaria (Antje du bois-Pedain and Shachar Eldar eds., Oxford: Hart Publishing), 2020, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2020
Date Written: December 31, 2019
Beccaria perceived his Essay On Crimes and Punishments as a plea for the "interests of humanity" against "the savagery and the disorderliness of the procedures of criminal justice". In arguing for a humane criminal law Beccaria relates to the "rights of men". The role Beccaria attaches to the "rights of mankind" resembles the role of human rights in modern criminal law - such as the right of due process and the right not to be subjected to cruel inhumane and degrading punishment - which subjects modern criminal law to constitutional constraints. In this Chapter I will discuss the importance attached by Beccaria to the rights of mankind in different contexts of the criminal law and will evaluate the relevance of Beccaria's discussions of these rights to modern criminal law. In doing so, I will focus on three different contexts discussed by Beccaria: the rule of law, torture and the crimes of adultery and sodomy. In the concluding Part, I will point out some of the lessons that modern criminal law may learn from Beccaria's discussion in these contexts.
Keywords: Beccaria, criminal law, human rights, the rule of law, torture, adultery and sodomy
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