Criminal Law of the enemy

Bruxelles, 25 maggio 2012

From the criminal law of the enemy to lawlessness?

Conference organised by the EuropeanDemocratic Lawyers association, the

Syndicat des Avocats pour la Démocratie- Belgium in partnership with the SaintLouis University Faculties, Brussels.

The theory of the “criminal law of the enemy” is not new. It is reflected in our contemporary societies by a security drift, characterised by increasing attacks on fundamental freedoms. Under the pretext of protecting public order, new types of people are now considered to pose a threat. These persons are not seen as people with rights or citizens requiring protection, but as “enemies” who need to be neutralised by intimidation or constraint. 

Initially seen as a “terrorist” figure, the enemy has now taken on new forms,ranging from illegal migrants to Roma families, young “rebels”, anti-capitalist demonstrators, activist clowns, tradeunionists who organise strike pickets or militants opposed to measures, such as the detention of people without identity papers, etc. The range of enemies may rapidly expand and the state of law will forfeit its status, if emergency legislation and convictions become more common, thus banalising arrest and detentionmeasures and leading us towards a world of generalised suspicion and control.

Is it therefore still a question of “criminal law of the enemy” or are we witnessingthe advent of “enemies without rights”? The speakers at this conference, who come from a variety of European backgrounds, will look at the theoretical and historical context of the doctrine of the “criminal law of the enemy” and examine the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in terms of emergency legislation. Round table discussions will then focus on the problematic situations facing lawyers and players in the field.