The International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) along with UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officially launched a new set of expert jurist legal principles to guide the application of international human rights law to criminal law.
Ian Seiderman, Law and Policy Director at ICJ said, “Criminal law is among the harshest of tools at the disposal of the State to exert control over individuals...as such, it ought to be a measure of last resort however, globally, there has been a growing trend towards overcriminalization.”
“We must acknowledge that these laws not only violate human rights, but the fundamental principles of criminal law themselves,” he said.
For Edwin Cameron, former South Africa Justice of the Constitutional Court and current Inspecting Judge for the South African Correctional Services, the principles are of immediate pertinence and use for judges, legislators, policymakers, civil society and academics. “The 8 March principles provide a clear, accessible and practical legal framework based on international criminal law and international human rights law,” he said.
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director for the Policy, Advocacy and Knowledge Branch, Christine Stegling said, “I welcome the fact that these principles are being launched on International Women’s Day (IWD), in recognition of the detrimental effects criminal law can, and too often does have on women in all their diversity.”
“We will not end AIDS as a public health threat as long as these pernicious laws remain,” she added. “These principles will be of great use to us and our partners in our endeavors.”