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In March 2004, France instituted a special legal procedure, to be applied in infractions judged as serious, as part of an effort to give police more powers to combat new types of crime. If money-laundering and giving assistance to illegal immigrants may be regarded as relatively recent infractions, stealing, murder, procuring and counterfeiting are all ancient violations. The new procedure extends the powers of police to hold prisoners in custody; it will also allow some offenders who plead guilty and accept the public prosecutor's sentence to avoid a public trial. Thierry Lévy, a renowned criminal lawyer, shows that the new law only confirms a tendency that has been at work for a long time, since many trials are no more than empty ceremonies sanctioning decisions that have already been reached. The author examines the way Justice in France today functions and puts some current dysfunctions of the legal system in their historical perspective. He argues that Justice cannot be served if the rights of the defence are ignored. Thierry Lévy is a lawyer and a member of the Paris Bar. He is the author of Justice sans Dieu and the co-author, with Jean-Denis Bredin, of Convaincre.
The recent advances in life sciences have modified our knowledge about the nature of man. Genetic engineering has given us a certain power over his future. Which principles must preside over artificial procreation and organ donation? How far can we allow genetic engineering and medical experimentations to go? What are the moral and ethical barriers of human science?
The creation of a system of international criminal justice was one of the greatest political upheavals of recent decades. The fact that international criminal law has been allowed to question national sovereignty is a revolution in itself. The detractors of international justice contend that it is simply the justice of the victors. Could they be right? Have law and ethics been muddled? Have the trials conducted in its name helped heal the victims? Can justice prevent civil war? A former magistrate, Antoine Garapon heads the Institut des hautes études sur la justice.
Is the sense of morality universal, is it inherent to human nature? The members of this symposium gathered around Jean-Pierre Changeux ponder the diversity of moralities and question themselves about the conflicts due to cultural differences and the possibility of attaining a common morality which would be intrinsic to human nature.
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