Deprivation of means of self-defence

Other Names:
Criminalization of self-defence
Extra-legal self-protection

In many countries legislation prohibits citizens from carrying arms or using them in self-defence. Physical self-defence resulting in harm to the attacker may lead to prosecution of the victim. The most famous recent case of private vigilantism involved Bernard Goetz who shot and wounded 5 youths he accused of attempting to rob him in a New York subway. He was brought to trial for attempted homicide and both he and his case became the basis for worldwide heated debate both condemning and condoning his action.

Minorities subject to physical harassment and attack on their homes may be deprived of any right to defend themselves. During the course of 1992-3, Bosnian Muslims were repeatedly refused the right by the international community to obtain arms in order to defend themselves against Serbian aggression. Bengali youths who defended themselves against a violent racial attack in London, UK, were arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. They had to wait over one year to be tried and acquitted of the charge. Of special concern is the case of women subjected to repeated physical violence by their husbands and who are ultimately driven to kill their assailants in self-defence. Legal systems currently fail to recognize any extenuating circumstances or to recognize the right of such women to self-defence.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST