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Browsing by Author "Wehka-aho, Emmi"

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  • Wehka-aho, Emmi (2013)
    Cultural and religious manners and rituals can violate national law. The topic of this Master´s thesis is the cultural conflicts that exist in the legal framework of criminal law, focusing on situations where the defendant seeks to avoid criminal liability or mitigate the punishment by way of cultural grounds (cultural defence). I will examine the types of cultural clashes that exist between national law and cultural norms prevalent in the western world and how these cultural factors can be evaluated in judicial practice. The main research question is how a defendant´s cultural background and the cultural defence affect the criminal liability in the types of cases at issue. I will examine the theoretical background of the cultural defence based on national law, other official documents and domestic and foreign literature and study how the phenomenon can be systematized and in what various ways the cultural background of the defendant is relevant in the imposition of criminal responsibility. I will further examine a precedent of the Supreme Court of Finland case KKO 2008:93 that concerned the circumcision of a Muslim boy and in where the court applied a new defence based on cultural reasons without the legal basis of the written law. In this Master´s thesis I will demonstrate that the cultural defence should be assessed particularly in light of the Rule of Law -principle and human rights. I will also show that the cultural defence is relevant in the application of Finnish criminal defences, especially considering its connections to the civil and human rights. I conclude that the cultural defence derives from the cultural and religious rights which are protected as civil and human rights. When adjudicating the cases it is important to evaluate the relative weights of those rights. The meaning of cultural factors given in criminal law is very unclear legally and demands attention of the legal scholars and the legislator. Cultural rights are an important part of the system of civil and human rights also in the context of criminal law.