This book is intended to provide students with some understanding of the variety of approaches to human rights in a selection of the world’s legal systems. By including cases from both the United States and the European human rights systems, the book should enable students to consider differences between legal systems deriving from a more or less common tradition. Japanese cases offer a view of the legal system of a developed, non-Western country, and Indian cases give an idea of the approach taken by a developing country with a legal system greatly influenced by that of a former colonial power but also by its own tradition. The book includes a brief introduction intended to give the student some understanding of the structures of the European, Japanese, and Indian systems.
The topics addressed in this book go to the heart of an issue basic to any idea of rights — the limits of a government’s ability to coerce or punish individuals. The scope of the writ of habeas corpus, which provides a means to force a government to justify its confinement of a person, is some indication of a society’s willingness to control law enforcement discretion even in trying circumstances. Limits on the methods a government may use in investigating crimes and trying alleged offenders also demonstrate the way in which a society balances its desire to punish the guilty with its understanding that unrestrained powers of criminal inquiry may pose dangers as great as those posed by crime. The materials on capital punishment offer students a chance to consider the ways in which social values can differ regarding a crucial indicator of the community’s understanding of the extent of its right to control the individual.
This book could be useful in any course aimed at getting students to examine the values a criminal justice system embodies.
This book is part of the Comparative Law Series, edited by Michael L. Corrado, Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law, UNC School of Law.
If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.