(13) This Directive acknowledges the different needs and levels of protection of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence as regards natural and legal persons. As regards natural persons, such protection is reflected in wellestablished
case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. The Court of Justice has, however, recognised that the rights flowing from the presumption of innocence do not accrue to legal persons in the same way as they do to natural persons.
(14) At the current stage of development of national law and of case-law at national and Union level, it is premature to legislate at Union level on the presumption of innocence with regard to legal persons. This Directive should not, therefore, apply to legal persons. This should be without prejudice to the application of the presumption of innocence as laid down, in particular, in the ECHR and as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights and by the Court of Justice, to legal persons.
(15) The presumption of innocence with regard to legal persons should be ensured by the existing legislative safeguards and case-law, the evolution of which is to determine whether there is a need for Union action.
(16) The presumption of innocence would be violated if public statements made by public authorities, or judicial decisions other than those on guilt, referred to a suspect or an accused person as being guilty, for as long as that person has not been proved guilty according to law. Such statements and judicial decisions should not reflect an opinion that that person is guilty. This should be without prejudice to acts of the prosecution which aim to prove the guilt of the suspect or accused person, such as the indictment, and without prejudice to judicial decisions as a result of which a suspended sentence takes effect, provided that the rights of the defence are
respected. This should also be without prejudice to preliminary decisions of a procedural nature, which are taken by judicial or other competent authorities and are based on suspicion or on elements of incriminating evidence, such as decisions on pre-trial detention, provided that such decisions do not refer to the suspect or accused person as being guilty. Before taking a preliminary decision of a procedural nature the competent authority might first have to verify that there are sufficient elements of incriminating evidence against the suspect or accused person to justify the decision concerned, and the decision could contain reference to those elements.
(46) In order to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of this Directive, Member States should send available data with regard to the implementation of the rights laid down in this Directive to the Commission. Such data could include records made by law enforcement and judicial authorities as regards remedies applied in the case of a
breach of any of the aspects of the presumption of innocence covered by this Directive or of the right to be present at the trial.
(47) This Directive upholds the fundamental rights and principles recognised by the Charter and by the ECHR, including the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security, respect for private and family life, the right to the integrity of the person, the rights of the child, the integration
of persons with disabilities, the right to an effective remedy and the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence and the rights of the defence. Regard should be had, in particular, to Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), according to which the Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter, and according to which fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the ECHR and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, are to constitute general principles of Union law.
(48) As this Directive establishes minimum rules, Member States should be able to extend the rights laid down in this Directive in order to provide a higher level of protection. The level of protection provided for by Member States should never fall below the standards provided for by the Charter or by the ECHR, as interpreted by the Court of Justice and by the European Court of Human Rights.
(49) Since the objectives of this Directive, namely setting common minimum rules for certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and for the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of its scale and effects, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 TEU. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.
Article 1. Subject matter:
This directive lays down common minimum rules concerning:
- certain aspects of the presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings;
- the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings.
Article 3. Presumption of innocence:
Member States shall ensure that suspects and accused persons are presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.