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International Criminal Justice Standards - American Convention On Human Rights

article trial fair guarantees

The American Convention on Human Rights (American Convention) entered in force on 18 July 1978, and as of 15 December 1999 had been ratified by all twenty-four states in the Western Hemisphere. Article 7 of the American Convention provides several criminal justice guarantees, including, for example, the right to notice and to habeas corpus. Article 8 deals with the right to a fair trial in a detailed manner, including the right to a hearing, the presumption of innocence, the rights to a free translator and to counsel, the right of the accused not to be compelled to be a witness against himself, the principles of ne bis in idem (not twice in the same), and that criminal proceedings be public. Article 9 guarantees freedom from ex post facto laws. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also considers the right to compensation for miscarriage of justice as forming part of the right to fair trial under Article 10. Article 25 of the Convention further guarantees the right to "simple and prompt recourse, or any other effective recourse, to a competent court or tribunal for protection against acts that violate his fundamental rights recognized by the constitution or laws of the state concerned or by this Convention, even though such violation may have been committed by persons acting in the course of their official duties."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has interpreted the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (1948) elaborating the rights necessary for a fair trial. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, through its adjudicatory and advisory jurisdiction, has also examined violations of human rights related to a fair trial, albeit in only a few cases.

In addition to the American Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, Inter-American Convention on Extradition, the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad have also been issued under the aegis of the Organization of American States.

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