TALLINN – The European Commission on Thursday decided to send letters of formal notice to Estonia, Finland and Poland for failing to fully transpose the EU rules on strengthening the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings.
The directive on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings is one of the key elements of the EU's legal framework on common minimum standards for fair trial ensuring that the rights of suspects and accused persons are sufficiently protected, the Commission said in a press release.
The directive strengthens member states' trust in each other's criminal justice systems and thus facilitates mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters. The Commission considers that Estonia, Finland and Poland have only partially transposed the directive with some provisions not reflected in national legislation at all.
In particular, the Commission has identified shortcomings in relation to public references to guilt, for example, when public authorities prematurely or falsely refer to a person as being guilty in public statements, and the availability of appropriate measures if this happens. These three member states have two months to respond to the letters of formal notice; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send reasoned opinions.