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Back to Paper Details
Back to Paper Details

Legal Death: Making the unacceptable acceptable in the UK

Citizenship
Extremism
Human Rights
Migration
Race
Sandra Mantu
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Tendayi Bloom
The Open University
Sandra Mantu
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Abstract

In the UK, as in similar jurisdictions, the death penalty has long been considered unacceptable. The paper proposes a notion of ‘legal death’ to capture State practices that remove an individual from a claim to basic human protections. Taking the death penalty as a starting point of analysis, this paper discusses the shifting legal boundaries of what is acceptable in relation to denationalisation, detention and destitution, practices that have moved along a continuum from unacceptable towards acceptability in recent years. It moves from a discussion of death and legal death as gradations of unbeing within a State to an examination of arbitrariness in the construction of fuzzy zones between legality and illegaility. This brings it to an analysis of the situation of legal limbo as the state that characterises those who are situated outside of basic protections but who are in fact in a relationship with the State in question. As such, this problematises the idea that legal death is possible, as a way to make unacceptable practices acceptable.