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Human Rights and the Criminal Justice System

  • Date Submitted: 01/27/2010 11:11 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 60.2 
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In our society today the term ‘Human Rights’ is widely acknowledge and most people believe they know what they are. But do most people really understand its concept? Constantly the media brings up issues relating to it, for example, just recently human rights activists accused the U.S.A. of mistreating their prisoners and even torturing them, this being a breach of their Human Rights. (BBC News 2005) When asked what Human Rights are most people will come up with general rights such as the freedom of speech, the right to live or the right not to be tortured. In 2004 the European Court of Human Rights received over 20.000 applications and but only delivered 718 judgments after declaring the rest inadmissible. (Council of Europe, 2005) This leads to the question what exactly are Human Rights and what role should they play in contemporary society especially in the criminal justice system.

The twentieth century and especially the horrors of the Holocaust brought about a movement of Human Rights on the global level. (Macions & Plummer 2002)

‘With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: …higher standards of living, …universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.’(United Nations 2005a)

Although the idea of Human Rights became prevalent after the Second World War as is stated in the UN Charter, the idea is not new. In the 17th century the idea that each individual was born with certain rights irregardless of social, legal or political institutions became popular in the western World. These Rights where known as ‘natural rights.’ John Stewart Mill for example believed that each individual should have certain rights in...


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