Friday, 30 March 2012

A closer look at the subjects

I am currently in my final year of Law school. I have followed subjects about the proceedings of criminal law, the practical implications of international human rights on criminal law, how ethics manifest in law in general, on the material norms of criminal law and finally about criminology’s effect on criminal law. With a little over three months left before graduating, I only have two more subjects that I need to finish.

The first is about economic and financial criminal law. Most of Dutch criminal law is written down in the Dutch Penal code, but in a few areas of law, like economics and finances, there are specific laws created to deal with the specific complexities. For instance the AWR (General Law on National Taxes) contains criminal provisions for people who do not pay their taxes. Because normal surveillance methods do not work (can you imagine a police officer learning anything about the state of someone’s finances from a body search?) and the complex nature does not allow much middle ground between ‘he might be evading taxes’ and ‘we are sure he is evading taxes’, there have to be new surveillance methods that can be used earlier in the investigation. This creates a whole range of problems. One such problem is the conflict that arises with supervisors who can compel someone to make a statement. Normally the European Convention on Human Rights would not allow this because it violates the suspect’s right not to incriminate himself, but if it is very early in the investigation, before a criminal charge has been brought against him, it is allowed for the government to compel someone to testify. It just cannot be used later in court proceedings.

The second ‘subject’ is my master thesis. I finally mailed the coordinator yesterday and got my subject approved. I will be writing about the principle of legality when it comes to the new law about animal welfare. This law states that all animals have an ‘intrinsic value’, but fails to really explain what this means in practical terms. It gives examples, like animals should be safeguarded against hunger and thirst… but immediately says this is only true if it would be reasonable when weighed with other interests. This leaves a lot of confusion and a lot of material to write about.

I still cannot quite believe that three months from now I will have written a master thesis and will be looking for a real job. I thought only adults were allowed to get a job. I’m not an adult yet, right? I am getting the same feeling I had when first told I would be owning a house...

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