Monday, February 20, 2017

A Timely New Book: Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense


Hot off the presses is an interesting new book by Dr. Jan Arno Hessebruegge, Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense in International Law (Oxford 2017).  If you're in the Philadelphia area, note that Dr. Hessebruegge will be speaking about his new publication at Temple Law School at 12 noon on Tuesday, Feb. 21.  More information is available here.

According to the publisher's website:

"While an abundance of literature covers the right of states to defend themselves against external aggression, this is the first book dedicated to the right to personal self-defense in international law. Drawing on his extensive experience as a human rights practitioner and scholar, Dr. Hessbruegge sets out in careful detail the strict requirements that human rights impose on defensive force by law enforcement authorities, especially police killings in self-defense. The book also discusses the exceptional application of the right to personal self-defense in military-led operations, notably to contain violent civilians who do not directly participate in hostilities." 

Dr. Hessebruegge's work explores a number of examples of direct relevance to the US, including:  
  • the Michael Brown case as one instance where compliance with human rights standards on the use of self-defense is doubtful (because the officer in question shot to kill, instead of trying to incapacitate);

        - "stand your ground" laws in Florida and other jurisdictions;

        - so-called "Make my day" or castle doctrine laws in Colorado, Texas and other jurisdictions that presume the legality of lethal self-defense in cases of unlawful entry into homes or even business premises or motor vehicles; 

        - questions concerning the burden of proof. In particular, Ohio still places the full burden of proof for self-defense on the defendant, which is irreconcilable with the presumption of innocence; and

            - human rights and the pro-gun lobby.

A human rights practitioner and blogger, Dr. Hessebruegge currently works for the New York Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Books and articles, Martha F. Davis | Permalink


"shoot to kill rather than incapacitate....." But apparently a standard police training theory is that if circumstances are sufficiently grave to warrant use of deadly force, then one "shoots to kill." One gathers that it's essentially impossible, despite training, to use a handgun with any real accuracy.

Posted by: skunk | Jul 29, 2017 4:59:38 PM

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