Editorial notes

Rita Faria

Rita Faria

Editor of the Newsletter





A story that most people don’t know about me is that I am grandchild of a lawyer that, from 1945 to the 1960’s in Portugal, was actively involved in demanding a democratic and egalitarian society. As far as I know, he never used violence for that purpose. Despite that, in 1958 he, together with many other men, was sent to jail for 2 weeks and prevented from actively preparing and participating in elections, and in 1961 he was considered a threat to the country’s internal and external security and had a criminal warrant against him. The crime? Endorsing a document titled “Program for the Democratization of the Republic”.

In Portugal, where I was born and have lived always, 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of a dictatorship that lasted for more than 40 years. In the 20th century, together with other European countries, Portugal experienced all sorts of suspensions of individual and collective rights and freedoms, rigged elections, censorship, and overseas wars in different territories where Salazar’s regime insisted on colonial occupation despite international condemnation. Hunger and misery, high rates of child mortality and low education, social immobilism, stiff patriarchal conceptions of family and of women’s rights, detention and torture of activists and freedom fighters are only a few of the numerous sufferings people had to endure. In countries other than Portugal, dictatorial regimes were openly more violent.

In April of 1974, in Portugal, the regime collapsed in what came to be known as “The Carnation Revolution”. The following year, my grandfather, the same who had been considered a national threat, was elected to the Parliament and helped draft and approve the new Constitution that, with some minor changes, still exists to this day. I was lucky enough to be born during the first years of democracy.

But this is about me, my grandfather and my country only to a certain extent. The European Society of Criminology (ESC) was created in 2000. That is: 26 years after Portugal and Greece welcomed free elections and democracy; 25 years after the same started happening in Spain; 11 years after Ceauescu in Romania (that will be welcoming EUROCRIM2024) was overthrown. Freedom is essential for scientific enquiry and critical knowledge, especially in areas where, as it happens with Criminology, frequently, the focus is on structural harms or on rooted social and economic causes for violence, crime and victimisation. Scientific evidence obtained from rigorous analysis and empirical research is detrimental for hateful and oppressive structures, oligarchical and atavistic powers, unequal and unjust institutions.

The ESC represents the maturing of Criminology and of science in Europe.

The rise in the number of its members, working groups (WGs) and activities, including the annual conferences, publications at the European Journal of Criminology and now including a new Summer School, should be proof of existing conditions in Europe for valuable science conducted in conditions of freedom.

However, let us not forget about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the rise of hate speech, racism and xenophobia throughout Europe, or sweeping populist discourses on crime and justice. Europe is not the only stage for this. But the ESC has a special role in promoting criminological scholarship on a European level, certain that more just societies produce better science and that, in turn, Criminology contributes to more just societies.