Presumption of Innocence


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Presumption of Innocence

 

in law, the principle that an accused person is not presumed guilty until guilt has been proved in the legally established manner. The purpose of the presumption of innocence in Soviet criminal procedure is to protect personal rights, ensure the accused’s constitutional right to defense, and guard innocent persons from illegal and unfounded criminal responsibility and conviction. Like any other presumption, the presumption of innocence may be rejected, but only by means established in procedural law and only with the assistance of evidence that is relevant to the case and admitted by law.

The presumption of innocence was first proclaimed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen at the beginning of the French Revolution: “Everyone must be presumed innocent until he is pronounced guilty” (art. 9). The principle of presumption of innocence is usually proclaimed in the law of modern bourgeois countries and in bourgeois criminal procedural science. In the court practice of the bourgeois countries, however, a presumption of guilt predominates; this can be seen with particular clarity in the criminal prosecution of progressive figures. Nonetheless, in these countries the presumption of innocence is a means of fighting unsubstantiated accusations when large numbers of working people and progressive public opinion oppose such accusations.

The principle of presumption of innocence is fixed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on Dec. 10, 1948, and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted in 1966.

Only in socialist criminal procedure did presumption of innocence acquire its true meaning and real substance. The principle is fixed in the criminal procedural codes of Poland (1970), the German Democratic Republic (1968), and other socialist countries. It is found in many regulations of the Basic Principles of Criminal Procedure of the USSR and the Union Republics (1958). According to this document, no one may be officially accused of a crime except on the grounds and in the manner established by law (art. 4); no one may be found guilty and thereby subjected to criminal punishment except on the basis of a court sentence (art. 7); the court, procurator, investigator, and person conducting the inquiry do not have the right to shift the burden of proof to the accused person, that is, accused persons are not obliged to prove their innocence; it is forbidden to attempt to obtain testimony from an accused person by force, threats, or other illegal measures (art. 14); the guilt of the accused person for commission of the crime must be proved during the investigation and examination of the evidence in court (art. 15); the indictment of an accused person does not predetermine the question of guilt (art. 36); and a guilty verdict cannot be based on presumptions and is rendered only if the guilt of the defendant for commission of the crime has been proved during the trial (art. 43).

The principle of the presumption of innocence, that is, the idea that all unremoved doubts should be interpreted in favor of the defendant, was fixed in law by a June 30, 1969, resolution of the plenum of the Supreme Court of the USSR entitled On the Court Verdict. All of these provisions taken together fully ensure the application of the presumption of innocence.

REFERENCES

Teoriia dokazatel’stv v sovetskom ugolovnom protsesse. 2nd ed. Moscow, 1973. Chapter 5.
Polianskii, N. N. Dokazatel’stva v inostrannom ugolovnom protsesse. Moscow, 1946.
Strogovich, M. S. Kurs sovetskogo ugolovnogo protsessa, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968. Chapters 5 and 10.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is essential that, as in every judicial case, all institutions in Macedonia respect the principles of the rule of law, including the presumption of innocence, and meet the very highest international standards throughout the process," reads the statement of the British Embassy.
It unjustifiably, infringes the presumption of innocence and is not compatible with the statutory right of fair trial.
This move obliterates the presumption of innocence and denies compensation even in cases like Sally Clarke's.
It endangers the fundamental rights of presumption of innocence and equal protection.
However, the Attorney-general said, there was a risk of causing someone to seem guilty, and that is something that could be used, if charged later, "as factors that act against their right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.
This principle is based on the presumption of innocence, to which large swathes of the popular press often pay scant lip service or ignore altogether, by depriving the accused of the courtesy of their title as soon as they are charged, but referring to the alleged victims by either their full title or their forenames.
He reminded about existing presumption of innocence, according to which no one can blame the suspects.
The courts treat everyone the same and the presumption of innocence extends to all.
though, immediately cited presumption of innocence to caution the lawyer against taking names.
NIHR also said that publishing the names and photos of those accused in the case of the "14th of February" Organisation contradicted the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), ratified by the kingdom in 1990, which stipulate that the right to the presumption of innocence "means that public authorities, particularly prosecutors and police, should not make statements about the guilt or innocence of an accused before the outcome of the trial" and that "the authorities have a duty to prevent the news media or other powerful social groups from influencing the outcome of a case by pronouncing on its merits.
I affirm here that Jerome Cahuzac did not benefit from any form of protection, other than the presumption of innocence.
We can have a new, more innovative approach, combining justice and a real effort to implement the warrant and then (have) negotiations at the same time," Moreno-Ocampo told CBC, as long as Assad had the presumption of innocence.