Strategic Litigation

Intervention: Cándido González Martin and Plasencia Santos v Spain

Published: (Last updated: )

Fair Trials International (with pro bono assistance from Matthew Ryder QC of Matrix) has submitted a third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Gonzalez Martin v Spain. The case challenges Spain’s use of the secreto de sumario regime, which allows all or part of the information regarding the criminal charges and investigation to be kept confidential from the defendant and his lawyer, and raises the question of when such secrecy powers violate fair trial rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

This case provided the first opportunity for Fair Trials to use the recent EU legislation on fair trial rights to inform the Court’s jurisprudence. Relying on an analysis of the provisions of the EU Directive on the Right to Information in Criminal Proceedings as well as the Court’s case-law, Fair Trials suggests that the right to be informed begins much earlier than the beginning of the trial, and should be enforceable irrespective of whether the trial has been completed and the impact on the overall fairness of the proceedings can be assessed. Fair Trials also outlines the factors – including the extent of independent judicial oversight of the secret investigation – which should be considered in order to determine whether the use of secrecy powers violates the right to a fair trial or not.