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Directive on presumption of innocence 05/11/2015 A compromise text has been agreed on a Directive on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial

Directive on presumption of innocence

The Permanent Representatives Committee of the EU Council of Ministers this week approved a compromise text agreed with the European Parliament on a Directive on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings.

The purpose of the Directive is to enhance the right to a fair trial in criminal proceedings by laying down minimum rules concerning certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial. It is intended to complement the legal framework provided by the European Convention of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It will also strengthen mutual trust and confidence between the different judicial systems of the member states and will facilitate the mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters.

According to the Directive, member states will have to ensure that suspects and accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty under the law.

The Directive provides two rights linked to this principle: the right to remain silent and the right not to incriminate oneself. In addition, member states will have to respect the following related obligations: before the final judgment, suspects and accused persons must not be presented as being guilty through the use of measures of physical restraint; the burden of proof must be on the prosecution; and any reasonable doubts as to guilt should benefit the accused.

The right to be present at one's trial is also addressed.

Moreover, member states will have to ensure that suspects and accused persons have an effective remedy if their rights under this Directive are breached.

The Directive will now be sent back to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and to the Council for adoption. Once adopted, member states will have two years to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive.

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