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Fair Process

Human Rights

  • “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

  • “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2

  • “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment V

  • “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment VI

  • “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment XIV

Fair process involves more than the requirements of "due process" for impartiality in the conduct of legal processes which are already initiated, but demands that such processes be fairly predicated and equitably administered.  Politicized justice which discriminates in targets unfavored individuals and groups for prosecution while dismissing materially similar violations by favored individuals and groups, or which seeks harsher penalties against unfavored entities while offering leniency to favorites, violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process and constitutes an abuse of human rights.

The right to a fair process, often referred to as the right to a fair trial or due process, is a fundamental principle in legal systems around the world and is enshrined in various international human rights documents. This right ensures that individuals are treated justly and fairly by the judicial system, especially in criminal proceedings. Key aspects of this right include:

  1. Presumption of Innocence: One of the cornerstones of a fair process is the presumption of innocence. An individual is considered innocent until proven guilty. This principle places the burden of proof on the prosecution.

  2. Right to a Fair and Public Hearing: Individuals have the right to have their case heard by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal. Trials should be conducted openly, though certain exceptions may apply, such as in cases involving minors or sensitive national security issues.

  3. Right to Legal Representation: Individuals have the right to legal representation of their choice. If they cannot afford legal representation, the state is often required to provide an attorney.

  4. Right to be Heard and Present a Defense: Individuals have the right to present their case and evidence, and to challenge evidence against them. This includes the right to call and cross-examine witnesses.

  5. Right to Adequate Time and Facilities to Prepare a Defense: Defendants should have enough time and resources to prepare their defense. This includes access to legal documents and other relevant materials.

  6. Right to be Informed of Charges: Anyone charged with a criminal offense has the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the nature and cause of the charge against them.

  7. Prohibition of Double Jeopardy: Individuals should not be tried twice for the same offense (double jeopardy), which protects against repeated prosecutions.

  8. Protection Against Self-Incrimination: Individuals have the right not to incriminate themselves. This means they cannot be compelled to testify against themselves or confess guilt.

  9. Right to an Interpreter: If a defendant cannot understand or speak the language used in court, they have the right to a free interpreter.

  10. Appeal Process: There should be an opportunity for the verdict and sentence to be reviewed by a higher tribunal.

  11. Protection from Arbitrary Arrest and Detention: Individuals have the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention. This includes the right to challenge the lawfulness of detention.

  12. Right to Privacy and Respect for Family Life: The right to fair process also encompasses respect for an individual's private and family life, home, and correspondence.

  13. International Standards: These rights are outlined in international human rights documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 10 and 11) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 14).

The right to a fair process is essential in ensuring justice, maintaining the rule of law, and protecting individuals from abuses of power. It applies not only in criminal cases but also in civil matters and administrative proceedings.

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