Crimes and Misdemeanours: Deviance and the Law in Historical Perspective
SOLON ON LINE JOURNAL
Volume 2, No 1, April 2008
Jackie Jones The Next Stage of Devolution? A (D)evolving Criminal Justice System for Wales 1-39
Mark Rix Australia and the War Against Terrorism: Terrorism, National Security and Human Rights 40-59
Aris Tsantiropoulos Collective Memory and Blood Feud: The Case of Mountainous Crete 60-80
Publications by Young Scholars:
Henry Yeomans Personal Reflections on the Experiencing the Law Conference 84-91
The second volume of SOLON’s e-journal introduces a more contemporary theme. All the articles focus on topics which resonate with current dilemmas. Two discuss very recent historico-legal issues and the third reflects on the trope of the blood feud and ‘honour’; in all cases, the parameters of the usual debates around these topics are challenged by the methodologies and epistemologies employed by the authors, demonstrating the range of fresh insights that result form such interdisciplinary scholarship. For example, balancing effective legislative responses to the threat of global terrorism with the preservation of human rights is a continuing conundrum exercising the minds (and legal advisors) of the executive (and legislators) here and abroad. Mark Rix investigates the Australian experience and challenges its Government’s response and initiatives as failing to properly acknowledge the role of the Rule of Law and respect for human rights in this context by invoking historiographical approaches to his topic. He argues that a new conception needs to be introduced and that rather than the defence of national security prioritising and overruling individual rights the Rule of Law and individual rights need to be protected and embedded through the defence of national security. In other words the parameters of legislative competence need to be redefined to ensure the integrity of these laws. Aris Tsantiropoulos has contextualised his criminological contemporary history of the blood feud in Crete by drawing on anthropological, sociological and psychological conceptualisations of memory, individual and collective. In so doing, he provides an interesting extra dimension to the operation of Greek law in the modern age, and its struggle to cope with the survival of the rituals associated with the blood feud in certain parts of the state.
The Debate Forum follows on from the format of volume one with another controversial but timely supposition. Jackie Jones examines the practical impact of the “quasi-devolution” of legal powers devolved to the coalition Welsh assembly since the enactment of the Government of Wales Act 2006. She argues, provocatively, that the shift from administrative devolution to a more legislatively competent devolution has enabled the Welsh administration and the criminal justice system to develop its own initiatives and policies with the potential and momentum to create a fully devolved and ultimately independent system that could diverge significantly from the English/Westminster model. She also cautions that there are real dangers that such progression could prejudice the equality of opportunity for all and equality of treatment of both Welsh and English required by the Welsh constitution.
The future consequences of “breaking away” from traditionally agreed parameters could ultimately precipitate a more formal break with the United Kingdom as the principality increasingly asserts its independence – a process further emphasised by the duality of language increasingly used in its proceedings. Certainly for those outside Wales, and indeed for some in the principality, these are controversial claims – requiring a rethink of the ties historically holding the United Kingdom together legally as well as politically. It is worth remembering that, in the days of the British Empire, while some colonies may have been acquired by military conquest, all were maintained within that Empire through the rule of law. The process of legal codification which occupied the Colonial Office in the last half of the nineteenth century was a fundamental plank in the authority that Britain exercised over its colonies. In terms of this recent imperial experience, there was a two-tier system, where for much of the daily business of the legal process in a colony, indigenous laws applied but where serious crimes (especially involving Europeans) would be dealt with under an appropriately ‘civilised’ set of laws; in other words, laws derived from operating within England and Wales. That older English acquisition, Wales, has never been treated like a colony, with the power to vary at least a part of its legal structure to reflect its own agendas and cultural realities. One implication of Jackie Jones’ contribution is that Wales is now demanding something along the lines of what colonies like India, the Gold Coast or Canada once enjoyed within an Empire, and which – in the longer perspective – contributed to their ability to move from dependence to independence. We would welcome responses and comments on this Debate piece.
We also provide a conference report on Experiencing the Law, a one-day conference held in December 2007, written by one of the delegates. This is part of our desire to encourage publication by young scholars.