PUBLIC EXPOSURE OF PRE-TRIAL DETAINEE: PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
- February 6, 2015
- Sara Benjelali
- No comments
If you happen to open a newspaper or watch the news on television it can be easily realized that many judicial proceedings are the subject of a parallel trial. Who has not heard about the Malaysian case involving Isabel Pantoja or the case of the Girls in Alcasser? Or more recently, the child molester of Ciudad Lineal. Many criminal proceeding, involving both, citizens and politicians, or other public figures, who are constantly subjected to monitoring by the media, giving away information that subjects them to undergo different valuations,both legal and moral, but much of this information is partial and still worse, It is carried out while the lawsuit is still pending.
The Spanish Constitution establishes in its Article 24 that all citizens have the right to a process of the court with all the guarantees, and at the same time under the Article 120 which establishes the principle of publicity of trials, with a dual purpose: as a guarantee to prevent manipulation in the functioning of the courts and to maintain the confidence of the citizens in the courts. These rights are linked to another fundamental right which is set for in Article 20 of the Spanish Constitution: freedom of information which involves the freedom of thoughts, ideas and opinions, communicate and receive accurate information and access to the sources of the news. Obviously these rights can not come into collision with other constitutional rights, such as the right to the presumption of innocence, a process with all the guarantees, the right to honour, privacy and self-image.
The right to the presumption of innocence is also reflected in article 24 of the Spanish Constitution and its violation can lead to its protection through the remedy of amparo, because everyone has the right to protect their dignity against unproven accusations, rights that may be infringed when the media attributes to a person a criminal offence much before that a court with the appropriate jurisdiction, declares their authorship.
As we have indicated, much of the information offered in the media derives from partial information and in many cases, this is not objective and neutral, seeking thereby either to partial and interested versions of the conflict or to influence the judge’s decision.
The General Council of the Judiciary, following the public information in the case of the child molester of Ciudad Lineal , has alerted the media and the Ministry of justice about the defendant’s dissemination of images and data..
Mass media have reported personal data of the accused, such as his university entrance examination for 25 years or older students in the branch of pedagogy, the divorce of his parents as a child, the death from cancer of his father when he was 10 years old, its several jobs such as valet parking at a nightclub, or job in a real estate company, etc., his first girlfriend, his “shotgun wedding”, the two children he had with his wife and their subsequent divorce, his problems with drugs, the public exposure of the report by psychiatrists who have attended him, etc, and all this without a court verdict condemning and declaring him as the perpetrator of the facts that the he has been so far charged with. This is a clear interference in the private life and privacy of the defendant , not existing in such information an interest public to justify intrusion and research on the life of the imputed and his nearest and dearest family . The media forgets that everyone is presumed innocent until proven gulty.
The General Council of the Judiciary warns that although the facts attributed to Antonio Ortiz are especially serious, this cannot justify him to be exposed publicly, and to appear in the media, with a series of terms that give the audience to understand his authorship of the offenses he has been imputed. It is still much more alarming if we take into account that the data and images have been provided by the Ministry of the Interior which as a matter of fact, leads to a serious violation of the right to the presumption of innocence of the accused, fundamental right whose respect corresponds both to the judiciary and to the rest of the State institutions, including the media and so.