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August 1, 2012

Are there distinctive/unique aspects of Western vs. non-Western criminal procedure systems

Our class text is focused almost exclusively on Western (and especially European) criminal justice systems, and I keep noticing some aspects of criminal procedure that seem common to all of these systems.  Interestingly, though, a majority of students in their mid-term papers discussed criminal procedures in non-Western legal systems (though I am inclined to classify Australia and Israel as countries with Western legal traditions despite their geography). 

Below I have uploaded the mid-term papers of five students who discussed distinctively non-Western legal systems, and I highly encourage everyone to read these papers closely and then share comments concerning the question in the title of this post.

Download Faltas on Egypt

Download Hong on South Korea

Download Jin on China

Download McClure on Swaziland

Download Melton on Afghanistan

August 1, 2012 in Class reflections, Course materials and schedule | Permalink


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I think the clearest thing here is a lack of regard for due process in criminal procedure in non-Western countries. In Iriny's paper she describes how CLOSE Egypt is to a more Western-based system, and it is interesting that they appear to preserve due process more than any of the others. Based on these readings, therefore, I would describe respect for (and preservation of) due process as the lynch-pin of a Western-style criminal justice system.

Posted by: Ruxton | Aug 2, 2012 12:12:42 PM

I'd have to agree with Ruxton in his observation. I suppose there are many factors to consider for this reason, but if you consider the cultures, religions, and historical development of each of these countries, it's no wonder they don't hold the same values as American (or generally Western) countries. When I say "values" I mean that broadly, as in society's values as well as the priorities of the criminal justice system. What one nation considers "important" could be what another favors in the least and vice versa. There's nothing wrong with not prioritizing due process, but as Americans we value it so dearly that it's difficult to understand nations (and those nations' citizens) that don't. In a shrinking world where globalization seems to connect all "corners" of the globe, it's important to understand the whole of a nation in the development of its criminal justice system, and perhaps it won't be so surprising when such drastic differences exist between nations' criminal procedures.

Posted by: Iriny Faltas | Aug 3, 2012 8:09:52 PM

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