Examine the Relationship Between Crimes Against Humans and the State

Topics: Human rights, Sociology, Criminology Pages: 3 (985 words) Published: April 11, 2013
Examine the relationship between crimes against humans and the state State crimes are crimes committed by, on behalf, or with the complicity of governments or state agencies such as the police, armed forces or secret services. Sociologists have looked into state crime and some have gone as far as to say it breaks human rights e.g. - the right to life, the right to reproduce. Although not all sociologists see breaking human rights as a crime, some do. Some sociologists who look into the how the state has committed crimes against humans and caused harm are Schwendinger, Cohen and Bauman. Schwendinger basically says that state crime is a violation of human rights, rather than a break of legal rules. This means states that deny individuals’ human rights must be regarded as criminal. For example, states that practise sexism, racism, imperialism or inflict economic exploitation on their citizens, are committing crimes, because they are taking away human rights from individuals and groups. Schwendinger argues that the sociologist’s role should be to defend human rights, if necessary against the state and its laws. Their view is seen as transgressive criminology as it oversteps the traditional boundaries of criminology that are defined by the criminal law. However, Cohen criticises Schwendinger as he says that whilst obvious violations of human rights are crimes e.g.- torture, slavery... not all break human rights and are evidently criminal e.g.- economic exploitation, even if they are morally unacceptable. Another criticism is that there is only limited agreement on what counts as human rights and why the right to life is seen clearly as a human right, the right to freedom of poverty is not by all. Cohen argues that there is a spiral of denial by the state when a crime is committed. There are 3 steps to this spiral. The first one is denial- ‘it didn’t happen’- for example the state claims there was no massacre but victims and media show that it did actually happen....
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