Saturday, September 28, 2019

In your opinion, can a criminal trial be fair if witnesses are granted Essay

In your opinion, can a criminal trial be fair if witnesses are granted anonymity - Essay Example Anonymity is considered as one of the most sensitive and controversial issues related with the criminal justice. The laws related with the anonymity of the witnesses have been developed under the common law and there has been a large standing principal that the defendant to be confronted with his accuser in the court of law. (The Crown Prosecution Service) The case of R Davis however, brought forward new challenges when it was decided by the House of Lords that the anonymity of the witnesses may render the overall trial as unfair. This case is considered as one of the leading examples of ignoring the achievement of a delicate balance between the rights and responsibilities of different parties involved in any given case. (Kerrigan and Stockdale). This paper will attempt to discuss whether a trial can be fair if witnesses are given the choice of anonymity? The Case of R Davis In order to discuss the argument of whether a trial can be fair, it is important to discuss the case of R Davi s as this case is considered as one of the leading cases establishing the legal position for the anonymity of the witnesses and the fairness of the trial. R Davis was accused of committing double murders in London and after hiding for some time in US on false passport, he was extradited to UK. He maintained that he left the party before actual shooting took place and he has been fixed in this by his Ex- partner. The Crown’s investigation included witnesses in this case who were fearful about their security and therefore requested anonymity. After the due investigation, the claims of the witnesses were considered as true and trial judge, in order to ensure the safety of the witnesses as well as to obtain their evidence, allowed the anonymity under which witnesses were allowed to give their evidence against the false names, no information about them was provided to the defence and the natural voice of the witnesses was only heard by the Jury. Subsequently Davis was convicted by the Jury. (Rahman) The House of Lords however, overturned based on the Common Law Principle that the accused has the entitlement to confront with the accusers so that the accused could have cross examined them. Though exceptions were noted such as the case of hearsay however, based on the article 6 of the ECHR, the conviction was overthrown. Fairness of trial and Anonymity of witnesses Article 6 of the European convention deals with the right of having a fair trial and the article (6)(3)(d) outlines the rights of the defendants to examine the witnesses. In case of Davis, the court convicted him because of making a delicate balance between the rights of the accused and the rights of the witnesses can be a difficult task and commented that this may not always be incompatible with the Convention. Article 10 and 11 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights suggest that everyone has the right to fair trail and public hearing by and independent and impartial tribunal in case any crimi nal charges are levied against him. Further, anyone is presumed to be innocent until charges are proven as guilty. Viewed from the perspective of the above legislations and legal principles, it may be clear that the right of fair trial is of absolute importance however, competing interests also need to be taken into consideration when viewing the fairness of a trial and anonymity of the witnesses. In the

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.