The United Kingdom was one of the original parties to the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). States which contract into the ECHR are obliged to secure the enjoyment of Convention rights for their citizens. Sometimes positive actions may be required as creation, amendment or enforcement of criminal offenses. If breaches of the Convention are alleged, they are adjudicated on by the European Court of Human Rights, and since 1966, the United Kingdom has allowed individuals to take case to the Court. In recent years, significant and major changes have been recorded concerning the criminal law and more particularly the criminal process. It cannot be said that the ECHR is totally incorporated into domestic law, but with the Human Rights Act 1998 a number of rights are now guaranteed and enforceable in domestic Courts. This eases the proceedings in a great extent, because previously The Court of Strasbourg was the only Court competent to litigate them. The Human Rights Act is known for its impact on the criminal procedure.
[...] An important aspect of the Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms lies in the protection of the individual from self-incrimination, and the closely linked right to silence( Funke v France Indeed , the European Court Of Human Right explained in Murray v United Kingdom that there can be no doubt that the right to remain silent under police questioning and the privilege against self-incrimination are generally recognised international standards which lie at the heart of the notion of a fair procedure under Article Further the Court highlights the essential contribution of these rights to avoiding miscarriage of justice and to securing the aims of the article 6. [...]
[...] B - The Legal representation Article 6 c of the European Convention of Human Rights establishes the right to representation and legal aid for the accused. The wording is the following: defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has no sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when interests of justice so require.” This section recognises three different rights: first the right to defend oneself in person, secondly the right to legal assistance chosen by the accused, and finally the right to a social legal aid for the poorest depending on the interests of justice. [...]
[...] Free legal assistance Article 6 c identifies the issue of the defendant's potential poverty; and as regards to the fairness of the criminal proceedings declares that there should not be any inequalities towards the access to legal assistance because of lack of money. Legal assistance should be granted and given free for those in need, when the prevailing interests of justice so require. An interesting case was brought against United Kingdom to the European Court about this issue in 1990: Granger v United Kingdom . [...]
[...] However, Article 6 also sets up circumstances where the press or the public may be excluded from the proceedings; This is allowed in favour of the protection of the safety and the privacy of witnesses, in order to help an efficient and real exchange of information, free from any kind of pressure _ within the framework of the pursuit of justice. Precisely publicity will be discarded from all or part of the trial for serious and justified reasons: the interests of morals, public order, national security, in a democratic society, where the interest of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice”. [...]
[...] So a question can arise as to the moment where these rights start to apply; the wording of the article and refers to “everyone charged with a criminal offence”. It appears to imply that the protection of the person's rights occurs when the prosecution against this person starts officially. Thus the protection provided applies when the situation of the individual becomes critical and so, when his rights could be neglected, not before. So the right to be informed as to the accusation as the article guarantees it should only occur when this risk materially exists in the pre- trial process. [...]
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