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by Simone Lonati (English)

Anonymous Witness Evidence before the European Court of Human Rights: Is It Still Possible to Speak of "Fair Trial"?

The purpose of this paper is to encourage a reflection on the use of anonymous witness evidence by the European Court of Human Rights. An analysis of the leading cases solved by the Strasbourg judges will provide an overview of the European case law developments on such a delicate topic, considering how the accused’s right of defence is seriously impaired when anonymous depositions are admitted in proceedings. The Court’s most recent decisions on this topic do create some concern. They represent a considerable step backward in the guaranteed right to confrontation, which, especially when dealing with anonymity, does not seem acceptable. While there is no question on the need to protect persons other than the accused in criminal proceedings and on the urgency to safeguard the safety of witnesses, when in danger, and preserve the source of evidence, on other hand, it is hard to imagine what “counterbalancing procedures” could compensate for all that the accused is denied when the identity of the person making incriminating statements against him/her is concealed. It is therefore a matter of making a civilised choice, and of asking ourselves whether in a trial that still aspires to be defined as “fair”, anonymous incriminations may be tolerated.

Journal/Publisher: European Criminal Law Review

Publication type: Article

Number of pages/Page range: 116-142

Language/s (content): English

Date of publication: 15-01-18

Personal data

Full name Simone Lonati

Current occupation Professor

University/Institution Bocconi University

Address Via Roentgen 1

Country Italy