Human Rights and Criminal Justice

Course Description: 

The course will deal with both procedural and substantive law aspects of criminal justice and focus on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. First the components of the right to a fair trial in criminal cases as well as the fundamental questions of procedural justice will be discussed. The course covers the types of proceedings to which the guarantees of the right to a fair trial apply, i.e. the way the notion of "criminal charge" is interpreted by the European Human Rights Court. Further, case law on the courts' independence and impartiality, the right to silence on the presumption of innocence, the right to defense, issues related to evidentiary law and witness protection are discussed. Following the analysis of the presumption of innocence the course will be devoted to the discussion on limits of prosecuting crimes resulting from the states' duty under the ECHR to respect the right to privacy, family life and freedom of expression. Also the prohibition of retroactive legislation and the limits of trial in absentia are to be discussed. The course will extend to a brief analysis of the jurisprudence of international human rights control bodies on the right to liberty with focus on pre-trial detention and long prison sentences.  

In addition to the in depth analysis of the case law of the European Human Rights Court the relevant jurisprudence related to Articles 9, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as selected decisions of the US Supreme Court shall also be referred to.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Ability to demonstrate substantial in-depth knowledge of human rights law in major jurisdictions via a comparative perspective - basic level;

2. Ability to benefit from a substantial knowledge of human rights law and protection mechanisms on the supranational level;

3. Ability to explain the main institutional and procedural features of the regional and universal intergovernmental and international institutions protecting human rights;

4. Ability to use cases in legal reasoning at an advanced level; and

5. Ability to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of some substantive areas of international human rights law.


The final grade is based on in-class participation (20 per cent), group exercise (10 per cent) and a 3500-word research paper (70 per cent).