Presumption of innocence not breached by contemporaneous parliamentary inquiry and criminal proceedings

22 Feb 2016

The European Court in Rywin v. Poland (read here) has found by a 4-3 majority  that the presumption of innocence under Article 6(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights was not breached by the contemporaneous  carrying out of criminal proceedings and a parliamentary commission of inquiry into a corruption scandal which concerned a well-known film producer. The work of the commission of inquiry had given rise to extensive media comment and the lower house of Parliament had approved the commission’s report in which five high-ranking State officials were alleged to have been guilty of corruption in connection with the legislative procedure for the amendment of the Broadcasting Act and the film producer was mentioned as being the “agent” of those officials. The film producer was subsequently convicted of attempted fraud. The Court considered that the presumption of innocence had not been breached by the wording of the resolution setting up the parliamentary commission of inquiry and the findings of the commission’s report. The Court also found that there had been no violation of the right to a fair trial under Article 6(1) or of the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3. It considered that the reasoning of the judgments delivered by the criminal courts did not reveal anything to suggest that the judges had been influenced by the statements of the members of the commission or by the findings in its report and that the authorities had been attentive to the producer’s state of health during his imprisonment and that the general conditions of his detention could not be criticised.

Jeremy McBride acted for Mr Rywin.