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.
[...] The criminal law must be interpreted in a manner compatible with the Convention rights. The article 6 of the ECHR presents the essence of the major principles of European criminal law such as the impartiality of the trial, the right to silence, the public hearing, reasonable time for the audience, the right to be represented, and the right to be informed of the charges alleged. First of all we must take notice that the rights concern here the fairness of the trial in the whole criminal process. [...]
[...] Lord Hope, in R v Brown (Winston) , sums the policy of the judicial system by that sentence: a defendant is to have a fair trial, he must have adequate notice of the case which is to be made against -Fairness in trial and defence A -Adequate time and facilities to prepare the defence This other safeguard is contained in Article b. About the delicacy to well determine what is exactly the reasonableness of time needed to prepare one's defence, the European Court of Strasbourg remains quite vague, cautiously referring to the specificity of the circumstances of each case. This leaves a certain freedom to the domestic judges. [...]
[...] This unfair time was considered as a constitutional right breach and so amounted to be fatal to the conviction. The European Court, although reluctant in interfering with domestic legal system, insists that reasonable measure must be taken to ensure that the courts provide reasonably prompt remedial action. In recent years United Kingdom has made a certain amount of reforms and efforts to reduce and control the length of the judicial proceedings, with a rather mixed success. But the causes of delay remain the same: get everybody to Court in the meantime, lawyers, judges, witnesses. [...]
[...] Consistence between the English Criminal Justice and Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights 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 offences. 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. [...]
[...] However this principle also knows some limitations in its exercise. The domestic courts have a discretionary power to determine this necessity of witnesses and the number of witnesses allowed. The only condition here is that the Court of Human Right has to be satisfied that the applicant received a fair trial. Furthermore and with the guarantee of the same safeguards, witnesses can be allowed to testify anonymously. The exception must be justified by good reasons that can be found in the risk taken by the witnesses facing the accused, or simply their vulnerability, their age; indeed youth is often allowed to testify anonymously. [...]
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