Saturday, June 20, 2020

Berlin: Does Criminalizing Torture Deter Police Torture?

Mark S. Berlin (Marquette Univ. - Political Science) has posted Does Criminalizing Torture Deter Police Torture? Here's the abstract:
Studies that cast doubt on the effectiveness of legal norms for improving respect for human rights have mostly focused on treaty ratifications or constitutional provisions. In contrast, I focus on national criminal law. I argue that criminalization of torture is more likely to deter police torture than these other forms of legal prohibition, because criminalization more credibly increases the threat of material and social costs of torture, while also helping to catalyze mobilization that amplifies these deterrent effects. Using an original, global dataset on national criminal laws against torture, I find that states that criminalize torture and define it in line with the standards of the UN Convention against Torture experience reductions in police torture. These findings highlight a largely unexplored angle on the relationship between law and human rights protection and demonstrate the importance of legal domestication for the effectiveness of international human rights law.