Right to a fair trial

A trial which is observed by trial judge without being partial is a fair trial.Various rights associated with a fair trial are explicitly proclaimed in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as numerous other constitutions and declarations throughout the world. There is no binding international law that defines what is not a fair trial; for example, the right to a jury trial and other important procedures vary from nation to nation.[1]

Definition in international human rights law

The right to fair trial is very helpful[clarification needed] in numerous declarations which represent customary international law, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).[2] Though the UDHR enshrines some fair trial rights, such as the presumption of innocence until the accused is proven guilty, in Articles 6, 7, 8 and 11,[3] the key provision is Article 10 which states that:

"Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."[4]

Some years after the UDHR was adopted,[when?] the right to a fair trial was defined in more detail in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The right to a fair trial is protected in Articles 14 and 16 of the ICCPR which is binding in international law on those states that are party to it.[5] Article 14(1) establishes the basic right to a fair trial, article 14(2) provides for the presumption of innocence, and article 14(3) sets out a list of minimum fair trial rights in criminal proceedings. Article 14(5) establishes the right of a convicted person to have a higher court review the conviction or sentence, and article 14(7) prohibits double jeopardy.[6] Article 14(1) states that:

"All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. The press and the public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, or when the interest of the private lives of the parties so requires, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice; but any judgement rendered in a criminal case or in a suit at law shall be made public except where the interest of juvenile persons otherwise requires or the proceedings concern matrimonial disputes or the guardianship of children."[7]

Geneva Conventions – International right to a fair trial when crimes aren't alleged

The Geneva Conventions guarantee combatants the right not to be put on trial for fighting in a war – unless they commit a war crime (a grave breach) or other crime (e.g., captured behind enemy lines out of proper uniforms or insignia while carrying out espionage or sabotage operations). Most held under the Geneva Conventions are not accused of a crime and therefore it would be a war crime under the Geneva Conventions to give them a trial. This protection against getting a trial is fully consistent with human rights law because human rights law prohibits putting people on trial when there is no crime to try them for. The Geneva Conventions however guarantee that anyone charged with a war crime or other crime must get a fair trial.