Comparative Criminal Procedures: The Case of Terrorism Investigations and Prosecutions

Date: 10-05-2013

Location: The Centre for Commercial Legal Studies School of Law, Queen Mary University of London 67-69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB

Languages: English

Organiser: School of Law, Queen Mary University of London - ECLAN

Partnership: Hart Publishing; European Criminal Law Association (UK).

Type: Conference

The purpose of this one-day conference is to highlight the similarities and differences between the two systems of accusatorial and inquisitorial criminal procedures and to assess the eventual impact of the two meta-models on terrorism investigations and prosecutions.
An introductory overview will see a distinguished panel examining the accusatorial and inquisitorial traditions: different features, cross influences, and current pressures for harmonisation. The analysis of key features and the comparison of the two meta-models will highlight that neither a purely accusatorial nor a purely inquisitorial system exist anymore. By virtue of the shared fundamental principles of the ECHR and the case law of the Strasbourg Court, the cross-fertilisation of the two systems has been strong for many years. The perpetual revolution of criminal justice reforms, with notably in France the traces of influences from the "Anglo-Saxon" model (e.g. plea-bargaining, right to silence, and even proposed abolishment of the investigating judges) has also played a significant role. In addition, the impact of EU criminal justice initiatives has been pushing for an increase harmonisation of the different approaches. Finally, the existence of a mixed system in Italy shows that positive elements from the two systems may also be merged in order to ensure the respect of two opposite needs: the protection of society and the safeguard of suspects and defendants' rights.
The three main sessions will then be devoted to the eventual impact of accusatorial and inquisitorial traditions in criminal procedures onto the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences. The meta perspectives will be contrasted with the discussion of identified, individual points of criminal procedure and the law of evidence. The first session will address the judicial oversight of police powers of evidence gathering. The second session will analyse the delicate issue of the access to and treatment of lawyers both during pre-charge detention and at trial. The third session will evaluate the usefulness of pre-trial and pre-charge questioning in terrorism cases. The fourth session will focus on the admissibility of evidence at trial, with a particular reference to intercept evidence.