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The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) launched a new report: Presumption of innocence and related rights. Professional perspectives. It is the latest contribution to FRA’s research on procedural rights and it follows other reports presented in the past (e.g. about access to a lawyer, victims’ rights and children’s rights). The document is based on interviews with 123 defence lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police officers and journalists from nine EU Member States with different legal traditions (i.a. Bulgaria, Italy and Poland).
The presumption of innocence is a core right in criminal justice and a cardinal right of defence. It is guaranteed by Article 48 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and further developed in the Directive (EU) 2016/343. The report is divided into 6 chapters following the structure of the abovementioned Directive. Chapter 1 presents general information on the presumption of innocence and its different components, while the subsequent chapters analyse the findings on the different components of this right, i.a. public references to guilt, physical presentation of suspects and accused persons and the rights to remain silent.
The report depicts how those rights are applied in practice across the EU. It also examines specific factors that could affect the presumption of innocence. According to the report, the practical implementation of the presumption of innocence varies in individual countries, but some common trends emerge (e.g. personal biases).
On 12-13 May 2022, the University of Teramo hosted a conference on the state of criminal justice in the EU (in the hybrid mode), during which FRA will present findings from its report.
The full text of the report is available here.