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Publication

Procedural rights observed by the camera

Audiovisual recording of interrogations in the EU

July 16, 2019 - Audio-visual recording

The earliest stages of criminal procedure frequently determine the overall fairness of the proceedings. Key evidence is often obtained during pre-trial interrogations by the police, prosecutors or investigative judges. Yet this is also a moment when the suspect, in particular vulnerable persons and minors, can be exposed to undue compulsion, coercion, mistreatment and even torture, due to the desire by law enforcement to secure a confession.

Given that interrogations take place behind closed doors, there are enormous challenges in determining what happened during an interrogation, when compliance with procedural rules or other human rights during interrogations is questioned. Even with a lawyer present (which is far from being universally the case), disputes about what occurred may result in conflicting versions of events, with no objective record. This may result in delayed trials or prosecutions, unfair convictions and serious human rights abuses remaining unexposed. Is audiovisual recording an effective way of overcoming this problem?

On this page, you can find a number publications and materials that were produced as part of the project “Procedural rights observed by the camera – Audiovisual recording of interrogations in the EU (ProCam)”, coordinated by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and further implemented by project partners Antigone (Italy), Fair Trials (conducting research in France), Human Rights House Zagreb (Croatia), League for Human Rights (Czech Republic).

As part of the project, Fair Trials conducted research on the use of audiovisual recording of interrogations of suspects in criminal proceedings in France. The country report on France gives a brief introduction to the project and French criminal justice system, sets out the legal framework on audiovisual recording in the country and analyses the limited available statistical data, as well as analyses the information drawn from interviews with stakeholders regarding the practice, and gives some recommendations. Read the country report on France in English here and in French here.

We also conducted international desk research to give an overview of the legislation and practices pertaining to audiovisual recording across the EU and beyond. Read the international desk report here.

 

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee produced a comparative report that discusses the basic principles and jurisprudence governing the legislation on audiovisual recording of interrogations and compares five jurisdictions of the European Union – Hungary, France, Italy, Croatia and the Czech Republic. You can read the Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s comparative report here. Our partners’ reports on Hungary, Italy, Croatia and the Czech Republic will be available soon.

In addition, a meeting report from an experience-sharing event that we organised together with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee in November 2018 in Paris is available here. You can read more about the meeting in our news piece here.

 

This project was funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014–2020). The content of the publications represents the views of the authors only and is their sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

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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