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Professor Dr. Sonja Snacken, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws 2022, University of Glasgow

  • June 14, 2022

VUB professor Sonja Snacken has been awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws 2022 by the University of Glasgow. She is receiving it for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights. Sonja Snacken is Professor of Criminology, Penology and Sociology of Law at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, where she was also Vice-Chancellor for Internationalization. She obtained a Master of Laws in 1978, a Master of Criminology in 1980 and a PhD in Criminology in 1985.


Prof Snacken is an internationally renowned penal scholar, known in particular for her work on penality across Europe, including sentencing and the implementation of custodial and non-custodial sanctions and measures. She is one of a small number of criminological scholars who take a pan-European perspective in their work.


Prof. Snacken has conducted over 40 research projects, at a European, national and local level, on topics such as criminal justice decision-making; overcrowding in prisons; the punishment of foreign nationals; remand; probation; restorative justice; and the extreme dependency of the incarcerated. All of this work has been underpinned by a specific emphasis on the integration of an empirical social scientific approach with human rights concerns.  She participates in several international scientific networks and her many publications include Principles of European Prison Law and Policy - Penology and Human Rights; European Penology?, and: Resisting Punitiveness in Europe? Welfare, Human Rights and Democracy,


Prof. Snacken is a founding member and was elected President of the European Society of Criminology in 2004 and is a member of two Working Groups of that Society: Community Sanctions and Measures, and Prison Life and the Effects of Imprisonment. She is also a member of the Editorial Boards of three international journals:  Punishment and Society, Déviance et Société, and Panopticon.


Throughout her career Prof Snacken has demonstrated her strong commitment to the rights of institutionalised persons. She has acted as an Expert to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT; 1994-2008) and was a member (2001-2012) and President (2006-2012) of the Council for Penological Cooperation of the Council of Europe, drafting Recommendations such as the European Prison Rules (2006) and the Council of Europe Probation Rules (2010).


She has been a Professor at the University of Ghent (1999-2009); a Research Fellow at the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice at New York University School of Law (2010-2011) and a Collaborateur-membre of the Centre International de Criminologie Comparée of the Université de Montréal, in Canada since 2010.


Prof . Snacken’s work has received many prizes and awards.  She was awarded the Belgian Francqui Chair at the Université Catholique de Louvain (2008-2009), the Ernest-John Solvay Prize for Scientific Excellence in the Human and Social Sciences by the National Science Foundation (2010) and the 2015 European Criminology Award by the European Society of Criminology for her lifetime contribution to European Criminology. In 2020 the University of Liège recognised her contribution to Belgian and international criminology with an honorary doctorate.


Professor Snacken has strong links with the University of Glasgow through her long association with our Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice (SCCJR) in the College of Social Sciences. She was an original member of the Centre’s Research Advisory Board when it was set up in 2006 and gave SCCJR’s annual lecture in 2009, She remains an invaluable ‘critical friend’ of Scottish criminology.


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Prof. Dr. Sonja Snacken receiving her doctor honoris causa