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PhD ceremony Ms. A. Bosch: Citizens enforcing the law. The legal and social space for citizen's arrest

When:Th 19-12-2013 at 12:45
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Ms. A. Bosch

Dissertation: Citizens enforcing the law. The legal and social space for citizen's arrest

Promotor(s): prof. W.J.M. de Haan

Faculty: Law

In the Netherlands, the right of citizens to arrest the suspects of crimes is the subject of debate. At stake is whether citizens engaging in law enforcement should be punished for taking the law into their own hands. In the political sphere, it is argued that by enforcing the law, citizens are making a contribution to public safety in cases in which the state cannot guarantee adequate protection. In the legal sphere, however, it is argued that this could open the gates for eigenrichting.

In her study, Astrid Bosch raises the following questions: Have the legal norms constraining citizen’s right to enforce the law become outdated? Is there, thus, a gap between the current legal and social opinions regarding citizen’s arrest? Would bridging this gap by broadening the legal space for citizen’s arrest endanger the rule of law?

To answer these questions, Bosch has carried out legal and social research. After identifying the current legal limits to citizen’s arrest, she explores the social limits by interviewing ordinary people from a range of backgrounds using actual cases of citizens engaging in law enforcement. Based on an analysis of their responses, she identifies a gap between current legal and social opinions regarding citizen’s arrest. She uncovers the respondents grounds for supporting eigenrichting and finds that these grounds are not per se subversive to the rule of law. Finally, she makes some modest proposals for how to broaden the legal space for citizen’s arrest without putting civil rights and liberties at risk.

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