Advocating Mercy’s Law
This chapter reflects on the work of criminal defense lawyers. Although engaged in forgiveness work, particularly post-sentencing, lawyers occupy a distinct position in relation to other actors. Lawyers who take up qisas cases, like anti-death penalty lawyers elsewhere, often possess a deeper agenda and, as cause lawyers, go beyond ethical self-fashioning or culture-building. They seek to enforce the rule of law. They work with and within the laws, but their ethically grounded advocacy risks placing them in the precarious space of apparent opposition to the system itself. The position of defense lawyers, whose rights-based advocacy sits in uncomfortable opposition to the gift economy of forgiveness, ultimately highlights the tensions of human rights advocacy in this climate.
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