It is self-evident that there is a close relationship between human rights and criminal law. 1 This is demonstrated in particular by the various instruments safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms, whether in domestic, European or international law, in which this relationship is amply illustrated on three levels: classification of offences, sentences and procedure. The obvious nature of this relationship – at least in relative terms – should not, however, obscure its complex and paradoxical character, or the changes and discussions to which it has been subject.