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Article

Access_open A Critical Appraisal of the Role of Retribution in Malawian Sentencing Jurisprudence

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2017
Keywords sentencing, retribution, just deserts, punishment, Malawi
Authors Esther Gumboh
AbstractAuthor's information

    The theory of retribution is a central tenet in Malawian sentencing jurisprudence. Courts have given expression to retribution in various ways, most conspicuously through the recognition of the principle of proportionality as the most important principle in sentencing. Retribution has permeated courts’ consideration of certain sentencing factors such as the seriousness of the offence, family obligations and public opinion. Overall, retribution rightly plays a pivotal role in Malawian sentencing jurisprudence by elevating the principle of proportionality to the most important principle in sentencing. Malawian courts have also noted that whether in pursuit of retribution or utilitarianism, the ultimate objective is to arrive at a sentence that is just and fair in relation to the crime and the offender. This also ensures that the sentence imposed does not offend the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.


Esther Gumboh
Esther Gumboh is a postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The Dutch Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Dutch penal law, preventive supervision, dangerous offenders, human rights, social rehabilitation
Authors Sanne Struijk and Paul Mevis
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the Netherlands, the legal possibilities for post-custodial supervision have been extended considerably in recent years. A currently passed law aims to further increase these possibilities specifically for dangerous (sex) offenders. This law consists of three separate parts that may all result in life-long supervision. In the first two parts, the supervision is embedded in the conditional release after either a prison sentence or the safety measure ‘ter beschikking stelling’ (TBS). This paper focuses on the third part of the law, which introduces an independent supervisory safety measure as a preventive continuation of both a prison sentence and the TBS measure. Inevitably, this new independent sanction raises questions about legitimacy and necessity, on which this paper reflects from a human rights perspective. Against the background of the existing Dutch penal law system, the content of the law is thoroughly assessed in view of the legal framework of the Council of Europe and the legal principles of proportionality and less restrictive means. In the end, we conclude that the supervisory safety measure is not legitimate nor necessary (yet). Apart from the current lack of (empirical evidence of) necessity, we state that there is a real possibility of an infringement of Article 5(4) ECHR and Article 7 ECHR, a lack of legitimising supervision ‘gaps’ in the existing penal law system, and finally a lack of clear legal criteria. Regardless of the potential severity of violent (sex) offenses, to simply justify this supervisory safety measure on the basis of ‘better safe than sorry’ is not enough.


Sanne Struijk
Sanne Struijk, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Erasmus School of Law.

Paul Mevis
Paul Mevis is a Professor at the Erasmus School of Law.

    Pragmatism has become an established academic topic focused on an accepted canon of works and a number of seminal authors. There is something ironic about this fixation of the Pragmatist tradition. An anticipation of transience and embrace of adaptability runs through many of the classic works of Pragmatism. Nevertheless, there seems to be a tendency to fixate Pragmatism and freeze it in its classic iterations, especially with respect to its philosophy of scientific inquiry. The article seeks to retrieve the dynamics and adaptability the classical Pragmatists built into their notion of scientific inquiry. It seeks to illustrate the need for such flexibility with recent developments in the field of economics. When the financial crisis struck in 2007-2008, this involved more than the insolvency of a number of large banks. The crisis, at the very least, also involved the bankruptcy of a dominant economic model. It raised questions about the rationality of markets and the widespread faith in soft-touch regulation. It cast doubt on decades of neo-classical economic dogma that counseled small government, privatisation, and free markets. Neo-classical economics did not float free from other concerns. It informed notions about the role of the state, the limits of public policy, and the scope of democratic decision-making. Indeed, faith in rational, self-correcting markets affected debates in disparate disciplines like law, political science, philosophy, ethics, and history in many non-trivial ways. Hence, the financial crisis is also a crisis of scientific research.


Wouter de Been
Wouter de Been is assistant professor at the Erasmus School of Law, the Netherlands.

Tobias Arnoldussen
Tobias Arnoldussen is a PhD Candidate in the Sociology of Law Department at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam. The author would like to thank the two referees and the editors Ellen Hey and Roel Pieterman for their valuable and helpful comments.
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