We need to talk about the Penal System. In European Criminal Law, there largely is consensus that criminal law should be ultima ratio, that is, the last resort when the law is applied and executed. However, criminal law and the penal system at large have also proven to be an efficient way to silence political opponents and citizens turning against the government by literally barring them from raising their voice in public. We have seen examples for this in Europe, and we’ll have to talk about that today. But there are more aspects to this topic: How are prison systems being used as a tool by autocratic-leaning governments? And how is the relationship between the penal system and the rule of law in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice that the European Union aspires to be?
This is what LENNART KOKOTT discusses in this week’s episode of We Need to Talk about the Rule of Law, brought to you by Verfassungsblog and the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein), with our fantastic guests:
LAURE BAUDRIHAYE-GÉRARD is a solicitor and the European legal director of Fair Trials, a worldwide criminal justice watchdog;
JAMES MACGUILL is a solicitor working in public law, especially criminal law, former chair of the Criminal Law Committee of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe and currently the Council’s vice president;
KAROLY BÁRD is a professor at the Central European University, teaching human rights law and constitutional theory, and Chair of the University’s Human Rights Program.