Ultima Ratio in European criminal law

The ultima ratio principle is one of the most well known traditional principles of criminal law. The principle has emphasized the repressive nature of the criminal justice system and positioned it as the last resort of the legislator. The principle has been developed mainly in legal scholarship with...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Oñati Socio-Legal Series
Main Author: Melander, Sakari
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2013
In:Oñati Socio-Legal Series
Year: 2013, Volume: 3, Issue: 1, Pages: 42-61
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Summary:The ultima ratio principle is one of the most well known traditional principles of criminal law. The principle has emphasized the repressive nature of the criminal justice system and positioned it as the last resort of the legislator. The principle has been developed mainly in legal scholarship with a national undertone, while criminal law has traditionally been seen as a pronouncedly national branch of law. However, criminal law has recently been strongly internationalized and Europeanized. This development necessarily needs to affect the principles that legitimate the use of the criminal justice system. There is a need for developing principles that could legitimate criminal law (cooperation) that surpasses the national level. The article, thus, examines whether there is a role for the ultima ratio principle in European criminal law. The main focus is on EU criminal law. The article suggests that there are several signs of recognizing the ultima ratio principle in EU criminal law. The principle is recognizable in the principle of subsidiarity, within which ultima ratio may have a federal dimension. Most of all, the principle of proportionality shares several similarities with the ultima ratio principle. If these dimensions were fully examined and utilized, there is a possibility that legitimizing principles for EU criminal law could be formulated at considerable depth.
ISSN:2079-5971
DOI:10.15496/publikation-52701