LLM Human Rights and Criminal Justice

Teaching and assessment (2019-20): Semester 2, 1 x 6,000 word essay

Module description:

This module explores the relationship between the aims and functioning of the criminal justice system, and the requirement to protect human rights. We will examine the rights of suspects, defendants, and convicted/imprisoned offenders, with a view to determining the extent to which rights can be, and should be, curtailed in the fight against crime. The module starts with a broad introduction to the issues, assessing how those working in the criminal justice system are bound by human rights norms, and assessing the various approaches that can be taken to human rights protections in the context of fighting crime. We will examine how the authorities investigate and detect crime and the rights of an individual who has been arrested and detained for questioning. We will explore the requirements of the right to a fair trial, followed by seminars on human rights issues in the context of sentencing and punishment, and the rights of prisoners.

Indicative seminar topics:

  • Introduction: the protection of human rights and the need to combat crime
  • The investigation and detection of crime - police powers of stop & search and arrest
  • Rights in the police station
  • The right to a fair trial I - The right to an independent and impartial tribunal
  • The right to a fair trial II - Hearsay and illegally obtained evidence
  • Rights, sentencing and (harsh) forms of punishment
  • Rights of Prisoners I - right to life; right to freedom from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment
  • Rights of Prisoners II - qualified rights (e.g. family life; voting)