EIT otti kantaa epäillyn oikeuksiin poliisikuulustelussa, johon hän saapui olematta pidätettynä

29.4.2022 | Oikeusuutiset

Markku Fredman

Aiemmassa oikeuskäytännössään EIT on arvioinut vapautensa menettäneen kulusteluja pidätyksen aikana

In Chamber judgments in the cases of Wang v. France (application no. 83700/17) and Dubois v. France (application no. 52833/19), the European Court of Human Rights held:

  • unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (right to a fair trial/right to legal assistance) of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Wang v. France (application no. 83700/17), and
  • by six votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) in the case of Dubois v. France (application no. 52833/19).

Both cases concerned individuals prosecuted and convicted for unlawfully practising medicine. They complained of the conditions in which their voluntary police interviews had been conducted. While noting the fact that legislative reforms substantially strengthening the rights of persons being interviewed voluntarily had been adopted subsequently – and thus had no practical impact on the applicants’ situation – the Court found, with regard to the defence rights protected by Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention, that the requisite safeguards should be the same as those applicable to police custody. It went on to examine compliance with those safeguards as part of its assessment of the overall fairness of the proceedings.

The Court noted that the applicants in both cases had consented to being interviewed and had been informed of their right to end the interview at any point, in accordance with the law as applicable at that time. However, they had not been expressly informed of their right to remain silent and had not been offered an opportunity to obtain legal assistance and, in one case, the assistance of an interpreter.

During the interviews both applicants had described actions performed by them which constituted the alleged offence. The Court therefore considered that they should be regarded as having incriminated themselves for the purposes of the Court’s case-law.

With regard to Ms Wang, whose mother tongue was Chinese, the Court, noting the vulnerability of her position, found, firstly, that the lack of assistance from an interpreter during questioning and the failure to inform the applicant expressly of her right to remain silent had contributed to her incriminating herself. Secondly, the role played by the statements taken during the voluntary interview and the witness statements produced afterwards had rendered the proceedings as a whole unfair. The Court therefore found a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention.

In the case of Mr Dubois, however, the Court considered that the criminal proceedings, taken as a whole, had cured the procedural defects occurring during the voluntary police interview. It noted that the Court of Appeal, in convicting the applicant, had based its decision primarily on evidence with high probative value that was unconnected to the voluntary interview. It found that, in the particular circumstances of the case, the statements made during that interview had ultimately played only an incidental role in the applicant’s conviction. The Court therefore concluded that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention.

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