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Implementation of EU Directive leads to "groundbreaking decision" on secrecy in court proceedings
12.12.16
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The implementation in Spain of the 2012 EU Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings has led to the Madrid Court of Appeals deciding to overturn long-standing provisions in Spanish law permitting documents to be withheld from the defence.

"Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information in criminal proceedings constitutes a milestone in the development of procedural rights. Among those rights, the so-called right of access to the materials of a case becomes of significant importance in the context of Spanish criminal procedure. Spain is one of the few countries that regularly uses “secrecy proceedings” to conduct judicial-driven investigations on suspects. According to the rules of the secreto de sumario a judge may order that the defendants do not have access to the case file and only obtain redacted judicial decisions as to the a) grounds for declaring that the proceedings are secret and b) grounds for pre-trial detention. Conversely, the prosecutors have full access to the case file.

On October 28th, 2015 the new provisions transposing the Directive 2012/13/EU entered into force through the Law 5/2015...

In a groundbreaking decision, a three-judge panel established that Art. 7.1 of the Directive made no exception to the right to access the documents of the case file, which are essential to challenge effectively the lawfulness of the detention i.e., even in cases subject to “secrecy proceedings”. Therefore, the Court of Appeals considers that failing to provide such documents violates the suspect’s procedural rights and orders his immediate release." (emphasis added)

See: Guest post: Spanish court upholds right to information in secrecy proceedings (Fair Trials, link)

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