Defence Rights of Accused: Legal Basis

Among the most evident rights of an accused person in all judicial systems, the accused’s defence rights stand at the top. As one of the fundamental principles of fair trial, it is envisaged in national laws including Criminal Procedure Code as well as the Law on Respect for Legitimate Freedom and Protection of Citizen’s rights (ratified in May 2004) which provides that “The courts and prosecution offices are obliged to observe the accused’s rights and provide them with the opportunity to take lawyers and experts.”

Such rights have also been prescribed in the international instruments to which Iran has acceded to and thus as per Article 9 of the Civil Code shall be deemed as the law, inter alia in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted in 1966, Article 14 of which in para.

3 provides “In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:

… (b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing; …”

In addition, in the UN Declaration of Human Rights which is a milestone document in the history of human rights, in Article 11 we can read: “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Needless to say that observing the accused’s defence right (such as making accused understood of his accusation, taking the last defence and … ) is one of the guarantees of judicial security and the result of presumption of innocence.

Further, it is noteworthy that logically and morally speaking, the inspector, prosecutor, judge or judicial authority in general, by examining the facts and circumstances surrounding each case , shall pay double accurate attention to evidence and defences submitted by the accused (compared to plaintiff’s statements and evidence) due to the fact that as the result of his/her examination, investigation or trial and decision, the accused position in terms of dignity or property will be subject to a drastic change which might not be compensated at the end of the day.

Submitted by Dr. Mahnaz Mehrinfar and Mrs. Golsa Daghighi