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Publication

Innocent until proven guilty?

The presentation of suspects in criminal proceedings

June 3, 2019 - Presumption of innocence
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The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that any person accused of committing a crime is to be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty according to law. It has been described as a “golden thread” running through criminal law. This broad principle includes a range of rights relating to how suspects are presented in public: public statements made by public authorities before the outcome of the case; the use of physical restraints in courtrooms or in public settings (such as at the time of arrest); and the content and tone of press coverage about ongoing criminal cases. The manner in which suspects are presented to the public can have severe consequences for the fairness of proceedings, the integrity of the justice system, and can undermine the dignity of people who have a right to be presumed innocent.

This report seeks to identify key threats to the presumption of innocence resulting from how suspects are presented in public, and recommends possible solutions to the many violations of the presumption of innocence that arise in this context.

Read the report 'Innocent until proven guilty? The presentation of suspects in criminal proceedings' here.

Read the comparative media report 'The importance of appearances: How suspects and accused persons are presented in the courtroom, in public and in the media' here.

 

Watch our short film below, where we share the stories of Nahuel, János and Robert to show what can happen when the right to be presumed innocent isn't respected.

 

This report is produced as part of the project “The Importance of Appearances: How Suspects and Accused Persons are Presented in the Courtroom, in Public and in the Media”, coordinated by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee with partners Aditus Foundation (Malta), Fair Trials, Human Right House, Zagreb (Croatia), Mérték (Hungary), Rights International Spain, and the University of Vienna.

This report was funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014–2020).

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.

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