Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."
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A credible legal system is pivotal to enhancing democracy, human rights, conflict prevention and – through reducing corruption and other crime in various societal sectors – advancing responsible and sustainable trade and economic development. And the keystone in any credible legal system is the fair trial.
What is a fair trial?
The basic criteria of this basic human right are:
1. The prohibition on arbitrary arrest and detention
2. The right to know the reasons for arrest
3. The right to legal counsel
4. The right to a prompt appearance before a judge to challenge the lawfulness of arrest and detention
5. The prohibition of torture and the right to humane conditions during pre-trial detention
6. The prohibition on incommunicado detention
1. Equal access to and equality before the courts
2. The right to a fair hearing
3. The right to a public hearing
4. The right to a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law
5. The right to a presumption of innocence
i. places the burden of proof on the prosecution;
ii. guarantees that guilt cannot be presumed unless the charge has been proven beyond reasonable doubt;
iii. ensures that the accused has the benefit of doubt; and
v. requires persons accused of an offence to be treated in accordance with this principle.
6. The right to prompt notice of the nature and cause of criminal charges
7. The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of a defence
8. The right to a trial without undue delay
9. The right to defend oneself fully in person or through legal counsel
10. The right to examine witnesses
11. The prohibition on self-incrimination
12. The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
13. The prohibition on retroactive application of criminal law.
14. The right that guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
15. The right that punishment must be proportionate.
1. The right to appeal
2. The right to compensation for miscarriage of justice
Links on fair trials
What is a fair trial? - Human Rights First
Fair Trials Manual - Amnesty International
The Right to Fair Trial - UNHCR
The Right to a Fair Trial Under the European Convention on Human Rights - Interights
Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors - OHCHR
International Commission of Jurists' Trial Observation Manual for Criminal Proceedings