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How can we balance the need of protection for vulnerable witnesses and the rights of the accused?

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10 pages
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  1. Introduction.
  2. Scottish government consultation.
  3. Observations and recommendations.
  4. Conclusion.

The tension between the rights of the accused and a vulnerable witness has remained a problematic balance to address through the criminal justice system. The enshrined presumption of innocence imposes a burden of proof set ?beyond reasonable doubt ?, further bolstered by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) right to a fair trial . However, wider aspects of the right to a fair trial would also imply a presumption that efficient use of vital evidence should not be prejudiced and as such, witness evidence plays a key role in the Scottish criminal justice system where cases are often ?relying on oral evidence from witnesses ?. This in itself highlights the intrinsic contradiction of balancing the rights of both parties; however at the outset it is submitted that a suitable compromise is fundamental to ensure the efficacy of the criminal justice system in preserving consistent access to justice.

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