Robert Badinter

Robert Badinter

Infobox President
honorific-prefix =
name = Robert Badinter
honorific-suffix =

caption = Robert Badinter during a demonstration against the death penalty in Paris, on 3 February 2007
order = French Senator from Hauts-de-Seine
office =
term_start = 24 September 1995
term_end =
order2 = President of the Constitutional Council of France
office2 =
term_start2 = 19 February 1986
term_end2 = March 1995
predecessor2 = Daniel Mayer
successor2 = Roland Dumas
order3 = French Minister of Justice
office3 =
term_start3 = 23 June 1981
term_end3 = 19 February 1986
predecessor3 = Maurice Faure
successor3 = Michel Crépeau
birth_date = birth date and age|df=yes|1928|3|30
birth_place = Paris, France
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = French
spouse = Élisabeth Badinter
party = French Socialist Party
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession =
religion =

website =
footnotes =

Robert Badinter (born 30 March 1928) is a high-profile French criminal lawyer, university professor and politician mainly known for his struggle against the death penalty and life without parole. A member of the Socialist Party (PS), he served as Minister of Justice and then President of Constitutional Council under François Mitterrand.

He is currently a Senator for the Hauts-de-Seine "département".

Political career

Death penalty

In 1965, along with Jean-Denis Bredin, Badinter founded the law firm Bredin Prat, where he practiced until 1981. Badinter's struggle against the death penalty began after Roger Bontems's execution, on 28 November 1972. Along with Claude Buffet, Bontems had taken a prison guard and a nurse hostage during the 1971 revolt in Clairvaux Prison. During the police storm, Buffet sliced the throat of the hostages. Badinter was the attorney for Bontems, and although it was established during the trial that Buffet alone was the murderer, the jury still decided to sentence both men to death. Applying the death penalty to a person who had not killed outraged Badinter to the point that he dedicated himself to the abolition of the death penalty.

In this context, and as a lawyer, he accepted to defend Patrick Henry. In January 1976, 8-year old Philipe Bertrand was kidnapped. Patrick Henry was suspected very soon, but released because of a lack of proof. He gave interviews on television, saying that those who kidnapped and killed children deserved death. A few days later, he was again arrested, and shown young Philippe's corpse hidden in a blanket under his bed. Badinter and Robert Bocquillon defended Henry, making a case not in favour of Henry, but against the death penalty. The defence won, and Henry was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The death penalty was again applied in France later on, but it became a public matter. Between 1976 and 1981, three people were executed.

Ministerial mandate (1981-1986)

In 1981, François Mitterrand was elected president, and Badinter became the Minister of Justice. Among his first actions was a bill to the French Parliament that abolished the death penalty for all crimes, which the Parliament voted after heated debate on 30 September, 1981.

During his mandate, he also passed several laws, such as:

* Abolition of the "juridictions d'exception" ("exceptional trials"), like the Cour de Sûreté de l'État ("Security Court of the State") and the military tribunals in time of peace.
* Consolidation of private liberties (such as the lowering of the age of consent for homosexual sex to that for heterosexual sex)
* Improval of the Rights of Victims (any convicted person can make an appeal before the European Commission for Human Rights and the European Court for Human Rights)
* Development of sentences without a loss of liberty (like general interest work for minor petty crimes)

He remained a minister until 18 February 1986.


From March 1986 to March 1995 he was president of the French Constitutional Council, and since the 24th of September 1995 he has been a senator for the Hauts-de-Seine département.

In 1991, he was appointed by the Council of Ministers of the European Community as a member of the Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on the former Yugoslavia. He was elected as President of the Commission by the four other members, all Presidents of Constitutional Courts in the European Community. The Arbitration Commission has rendered eleven advices on "major legal questions" arisen by the split of the SFRY. [ [ Curriculum vitae of Robert Badinter on] ]

Recent times

He continues his struggle against the death penalty in China and the United States of America, petitioning officials and militating in the World Congress against Death Penalty.

He recently opposed the adhesion of Turkey to the European Union, on the grounds that Turkey might not be able to follow the rules of the Union. Also, the geographic setting of Turkey makes it a bad candidate according to Badinter: "Why should Europe be neighbour with Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, the former Caucasus, that is, the most dangerous region of these times? Nothing in the project of the founding fathers was predicting this extension, I dare not say this expansion."

As a head of the Arbitration Commission he gained huge authority among Macedonians and other ethnic groups in Republic of Macedonia due to the fact that he recommended "that the use of the name `Macedonia' cannot therefore imply any territorial claim against another State" and, therefore, full recognition in 1992 [] . Because of that, he was involved in drafting the so-called Ohrid Agreement in Republic of Macedonia. The principle in this agreement that ethnic related proposals in the national assembly (and later on in the city councils and other local government bodies) should be supported by a majority of both ethnic groups is often called the "Badinter principle".

Personal life

He is married to the feminist writer Élisabeth Badinter, the daughter of Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, the founder of Publicis.


* L'exécution (1973), about the trial of Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems
* Condorcet, 1743-1794 (1988), co-authored with Élisabeth Badinter.
* Une autre justice (1989)
* Libres et égaux : L'émancipation des Juifs (1789-1791) (1989)
* La prison républicaine, 1871-1914 (1992)
* C.3.3 - Oscar Wilde ou l'injustice (1995)
* Un antisémitisme ordinaire (1997)
* L'abolition (2000), recounting his fight for the abolition of the death penalty in France
* Une constitution européenne (2002)
* Le rôle du juge dans la société moderne (2003)
* Contre la peine de mort (2006)
* Abolition: One Man's Battle Against the Death Penalty, English version of L'abolition translated by Jeremy Mercer (Northeastern University Press, 2008)


External links

* [ Official page of Robert Badinter in the French Senate]

* [ La page de Robert Badinter sur le site du Sénat]
* [ "Vidéo:" Robert Badinter] en 1976, il motive son engagement contre la peine de mort, une archive de la Télévision suisse romande
* [ "UHB Rennes II" ] Autour de l'oeuvre de Robert Badinter : Éthique et justice. Synergie des savoirs et des compétences et perspectives d'application en psychocriminologie. "journées d'étude les 22 et 23 mai 2008 à l'université Rennes 2, sur le thème "Autour de l'œuvre de Robert Badinter : Éthique et justice".".]

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