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EuropeanConventionHandbookForPolice

Investigating crime; and

Investigating crime; and ensuring the integrity of the criminal process Page 75 ■ In Keegan v the United Kingdom, the Court determined that there had been a violation of Article 8 on account of the failure by the police to carry out adequate verification of the current occupants of a house. Police officers had forcibly gained entry into the applicants’ home and carried out a search of the premises in the mistaken belief that an armed robber lived in the home. Although the Court was willing to accept that there had been relevant reasons for the search, it could not accept that the reasons had in this instance been sufficient given the failure to take proper precautions prior to carrying out the search. Nor was it relevant that the police had not acted out of malice in light of the importance of protecting individuals against abuse of power. 219 The importance of ‘fair hearing’ guarantees: Article 6, European Convention on Human Rights Article 6 is the provision in the Convention that gives rise to the greatest amount of case law in Strasbourg. Many of these cases involve systemic weaknesses in domestic arrangements, and in particular, the failure of States to ensure ‘trial within a reasonable time’. Most of these identified weaknesses do not directly involve police action or inaction (and rather focus upon systemic shortcomings on the part of the judicial system), but certain areas of jurisprudence do have important implications for police practice. The text of Article 6 is as follows: 1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the Court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice. 2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. 3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights: (a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him; 219 Keegan v the United Kingdom, judgment of 18 July 2006 at paragraphs 29-36.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 76 (b) to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence; (c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require; (d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him; (e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court. Article 6 is given a purposive interpretation that furthers the principle of fairness in the administration of justice, for in a democratic society based upon the rule of law, ‘the right to a fair administration of justice holds such a prominent place that a restrictive interpretation … would not correspond to the aim and the purpose of that provision’. 220 Thus an assurance given to an accused that he would not be prosecuted for certain offences may render subsequent criminal proceedings unfair if the authorities renege on the assurance. 221 The fundamental and all-pervasive notion infusing Article 6 is ‘fairness’ as reflected in Paragraph (1), which refers to the rights to: f f‘a fair and public hearing’; f f‘within a reasonable time’; f f‘by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law’; and ffwhich pronounces its judgment publicly except in defined and narrowly construed circumstances. Additionally, a person accused of a criminal offence acquires further minimum rights conferred by paragraphs (2) and (3), including the rights: ffto be presumed innocent until proven guilty; ffto be informed of the charge against him; ffto have adequate time and facilities to prepare his defence; ffto defend himself or have legal assistance; ffto examine (and have examined) witnesses; and ffto the free use of an interpreter. 220 Delcourt v Belgium, judgment of 17 January 1970 at paragraph 25. 221 Mustafa (Abu Hamza) v the United Kingdom, decision of 18 January 2011.