I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

Fair Trials publishes position paper on proposed presumption of innocence directive

editor - November 11, 2014

European union concept, digital illustration.Fair Trials International, together with its Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP), has published a position paper on the proposed EU Directive protecting the presumption of innocence of accused’s and suspects in criminal proceedings, which was proposed by the European Commission in November 2013. The paper is being circulated to MEPs in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament in advance of their discussions of the proposal and publication of their position and to members of the Council.
The directive on the presumption of innocence is another development in the completion of the Roadmap on Criminal Procedural Rights – the EU’s step-by-step approach to improving protection for fair trials rights. It is the second directive to be proposed following the European Commission publishing a package of five new measures to establish fair trial standards across the EU. The proposed directive on the presumption of innocence follows the proposed directive on procedural safeguards for children, about which Fair Trials has also written a position paper recommending improvements to the draft. The new package of measures follows the 2009 Roadmap which has resulted in the successful adoption of directives on the right of criminal suspects to interpretation and translation (in 2010), to information in criminal proceedings (in 2012), to access a lawyer and communicate with third parties on arrest (in 2013).
The Commission’s proposed directive provides for (i) public authorities not to make reference to guilt before a final judgment, (ii) a correct balance between the public interest and the right of the defence when reversing the burden of proof, (iii) the right not to incriminate one-self and not to cooperate, (iv) the right to remain silent, (v)  the right to be present at one’s trial, (vi) the right to a remedy if rights are violated. Fair Trials and LEAP have welcomed these proposed protections, while calling for them to be expanded upon in greater detail to ensure enforceability.
Fair Trials has made recommendations which focus on ensuring that the provisions of the directive effectively safeguard the presumption of innocence of suspects and accused individuals across the EU. As the Commission’s own Impact Assessment has shown there is insufficient protection of certain aspects of the principle of presumption of innocence of suspects and accused persons in the EU and the existing principles which are established by case law of the ECtHR have not proved to be sufficient to achieve the necessary level of mutual trust between EU Member States required for the smooth functioning of the area of freedom, security and justice.
Some key protections that Fair Trials and LEAP have called for include:
1. Witnesses, as well as suspects, should be informed of their right against self-incrimination;
2. Legal persons as well as natural persons should be included in the scope of the directive and evidence collected in administrative proceedings that violates the presumption of innocence should be excluded from criminal proceedings;
3. The prohibition on public references to guilt before conviction should be strengthened and should include protections against prejudicial presentations of the accused in court;
4. Reversals of the burden of proof to the accused should be more explicitly limited;
5. Reminders of the right to silence should be more frequent and greater scrutiny should be paid to waivers of this right;
6. Audio-visual recording of interrogations should be introduced in order to strengthen remedies for violations of the right to silence and against self-incrimination;
7. Clear and effective remedies when rights relating to the presumption of innocence under the directive are violated should be 8. maintained.
Download the full position paper here.
You can find a briefing to the European Commission here.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on 020 7822 2370 or 07950 849 851.

For regular updates follow Fair Trials on Twitter or sign up to our monthly bulletin at the bottom of the page.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.