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Är en modernare rättegång rättvis? -Om den tilltalades rätt till muntlig förhandling

Sjöblom, Helena LU (2011) JURM01 20112
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Den 1 november 2008 genomfördes reformen ”En modernare rättegång” (EMR) i de allmänna domstolarna i Sverige. Ett led i moderniseringen var att de förhör som äger rum vid en bevisupptagning i tingsrätten dokumenteras med en ljud- och bildupptagning. Inspelningen skall sedan, vid ett överklagande, om det behövs för utredningen, spelas upp vid bevisupptagningen i hovrätten. En videouppspelning ska vara jämställt med att bevisningen har tagits upp på nytt och hovrätten får ändra tingsrättens tilltrosbedömning och dom utan att den tilltalade hörs igen. I den granskning som regeringen genomförde i Prop. 2004/05:131 diskuterades de problem som reformen skulle kunde medföra i förhållande till Europakonventionens artikel 6 och rätten till muntlig... (More)
Den 1 november 2008 genomfördes reformen ”En modernare rättegång” (EMR) i de allmänna domstolarna i Sverige. Ett led i moderniseringen var att de förhör som äger rum vid en bevisupptagning i tingsrätten dokumenteras med en ljud- och bildupptagning. Inspelningen skall sedan, vid ett överklagande, om det behövs för utredningen, spelas upp vid bevisupptagningen i hovrätten. En videouppspelning ska vara jämställt med att bevisningen har tagits upp på nytt och hovrätten får ändra tingsrättens tilltrosbedömning och dom utan att den tilltalade hörs igen. I den granskning som regeringen genomförde i Prop. 2004/05:131 diskuterades de problem som reformen skulle kunde medföra i förhållande till Europakonventionens artikel 6 och rätten till muntlig förhandling. Slutsatsen i Prop. 2004/05:131 var att en uppspelning av tingsrättsförhören, och de restriktiva möjligheterna för den tilltalade att ställa ytterligare frågor, var förenlig med konventionen, och reformen genomfördes.

Av Europadomstolens praxis framgår, att huvudregeln är att det ska hållas muntlig förhandling även i en överrätt, men att inskränkningar kan tillåtas vid exceptionella omständigheter. Exceptionella omständigheter har ansetts föreligga om överinstansen enbart behandlar rättsfrågor som inte påverkas av den tilltalades uttalanden, om rättegången avgör sakfrågorna som är av teknisk art, eller om det är skriftliga utlåtanden som åberopas som bevisning och de inte påverkas av att den tilltalade eller någon annan uttalar sig i frågan. Europadomstolens bedömning sker utifrån rättegångsförfarandet sett i dess helhet. Europadomstolen väger i sin bedömning in överinstansens roll i det nationella domstolsväsendet, vilken makt överrätten har och hur väl den tilltalades rättigheter skyddas och tillgodoses i rättegången.

Vid överinstansförhandlingar där domstolen ska bedöma sakfrågor likt den tilltalade skuld, trovärdighet eller motiv, blir rätten till muntlig förhandling betydande. Rätten blir även framstående i ärenden som rör motstridiga uppgifter eller om det i målet finns komplicerade omständigheter som måste utredas. Om överinstansen ändrar underrättens dom i en negativ riktning för den tilltalade är det en stark indikation på att den tilltalade skulle ha getts en muntlig förhandling. I mål där mycket står på spel för den tilltalade, likt risken för en markant straffskärpning, blir dennes rätt till muntlig förhandling stark och väger över de nationella domstolarnas behov av effektivitet och besparingar.

För att rätten till muntlig förhandling ska inställa sig, så får den tilltalade inte ha avstått från sin rättighet. Ett avståndstagande kan ske uttryckligen eller implicit. Avståndstagandet måste, för att godkännas, vara otvetydigt och får inte strida mot något allmänt intresse. Den tilltalade måste också ha insett konsekvenserna av sitt avståndstagande, för att det ska kunna hävdas ha ägt rum. Om det emellertid föreligger ett allvarligt brottmål, där mycket står på spel för den tilltalade, så ska det i princip alltid hållas muntlig förhandling, oavsett om den tilltalade har avstått från sin rätt.

Enligt Europadomstolens praxis föreligger det en muntlig förhandling i överinstansen om den tilltalade hörs vid bevisupptagningen, samt får ställa frågor till de vittnen vars utsagor bedöms vara av betydelse för avgörandet. Om särskilda omständigheter föreligger kan en mindre strikt standard tillåtas. Den tilltalade ska dock i alla fall få kommentera de förhör som åberopas i rättegången, samt vid ett tidigare stadium ha erkänts någon form av mer direkt kontradiktion.

De svenska hovrätterna är appellationsdomstolar som prövar sakfrågor och rättsfrågor. Det är inte helt ovanligt att den svenska hovrätten prövar frågor rörande den tilltalades skuld, trovärdighet, motiv, komplicerade omständigheter eller motstridiga uppgifter. De svenska hovrätternas beslut att inte höra den tilltalade i en överrättsrättegång kan således innebära en kränkning av rätten till muntlig förhandling enligt artikel 6 i Europakonventionen.

Enligt uppgifter om hur EMR har fungerat i praktiken framgår det att tilläggsförhör sker mycket restriktivt. Det framgick även att det i nästan hälften av alla mål som kommer upp i hovrätten sker en ändring i domslutet. Den vanligaste anledningen till ett nytt utslag angavs vara en ändring av påföljden och skulden. Med tanke på karaktären av de frågor som prövas, hur sällan det sker tilläggsförhör samt den höga ändringsfrekvensen, är det inte svårt att anta att det vid flertalet fall har skett kränkningar av rätten till muntlig förhandling sedan EMR infördes.

Hovrättsreformen måste anpassas för att reformen ska bli förenlig med Europakonventionens krav på en rättvis rättegång, och för att Sverige inte ska bli fällda i Europadomstolen. Hovrätterna bör för det första införa ett system där information ges till de tilltalade om deras rätt att ställa ytterligare frågor i hovrätten. Om den tilltalade sedan begär tilläggsförhör ska den tilltalade höras igen och även tillåtas att ställa ytterligare frågor till de vittnen vars utsagor anses vara av betydande bevisvärde. På så sätt får vi både en modern och en rättvis rättegång i de svenska hovrätterna. (Less)
Abstract
On November 1st 2008, the reform "A more modern trial" came into force in the Swedish court system. One aspect of the modernization is that documentation is to be made of testimonies conducted at the Swedish District Courts, with an audio and visual recording. The recording can then, at an appeal, if necessary for the investigation, be played at the court of appeal, instead of having a full rehearing. The played recordings will be considered evidence and the Swedish Appeal Court may, simply on the basis of the playbacks, modify the District Court’s assessment of the defendant’s credibility and the District Court’s verdict without an additional hearing. In the review of the proposed legislation, Prop. 2004/05: 131, the Swedish government... (More)
On November 1st 2008, the reform "A more modern trial" came into force in the Swedish court system. One aspect of the modernization is that documentation is to be made of testimonies conducted at the Swedish District Courts, with an audio and visual recording. The recording can then, at an appeal, if necessary for the investigation, be played at the court of appeal, instead of having a full rehearing. The played recordings will be considered evidence and the Swedish Appeal Court may, simply on the basis of the playbacks, modify the District Court’s assessment of the defendant’s credibility and the District Court’s verdict without an additional hearing. In the review of the proposed legislation, Prop. 2004/05: 131, the Swedish government discussed, whether the reform could cause any problems due to the Swedish commitment towards the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to a fair trial in article 6. The government reached the conclusion, that a playback of the District Court’s hearings, and the restrictive possibilities for the defendant to ask further questions in the Swedish Appeal Court, is compatible with the European Convention, and the new legislation was implemented.

By studying the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, it is clear that the main rule is that there should be an oral hearing in appeal courts, unless there are exceptional circumstances that can justify dispensing this right. Exceptional circumstances is thought to exist if the appeal court only raises questions of law which cannot be affected by a defendant’s statement, the trial only determines questions of fact that are of technical nature, or if the questions of fact only depends on written expert testimonies that can be adequately resolved on the basis of the case-file. The European Court of Human Rights assessment of whether or not a limitation of the right to an oral hearing can be justified is based on the proceedings seen as a whole. The European Court of Human Rights evaluates the nature of the national appeal system; the scope of the court of appeal’s powers and in what manner the defendant’s interests is protected in the appeal court.

In cases where an appeal court raises questions of fact concerning the defendant’s guilt, credibility or motives, the defendant’s right to an oral hearing is strong. The right is also prominent in cases where there is contradictive information, if the case concerns complicated facts that must be investigated thorough, or if the appeal court gives judgment against the defendant in a case where the district court has ruled in his or her favor. In cases where much is at stakes for the defendant, such as the risk of a distinct increase in the sentence, his or her right to an oral hearing outweighs the appeal court’s demands of efficiency and economy.

A defendant can waive his or her right to an oral hearing. A waiver can be explicit or implicit. A waiver must though be established in an unequivocal manner and cannot run counter to an important public interest. The defendant must also be aware of the consequences of his or her waiver, for it to have effect. However, when a case concerns severe criminal charges, and much is at stake for the defendant, there should always be an oral hearing, independent of whether the defendant has waived his or her right.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, an oral hearing has occurred in an appeal court, when the defendant has been given the opportunity to give statement and question the witnesses, whose testimonies are of importance to the verdict. If exceptional circumstances occur, the defendant’s rights can be met with a less strict standard. The defendant should then, at least be granted a chance to comment on the witness testimony in the appeal court, and at an earlier stage been given the opportunity to a more direct contradiction.

The Swedish Courts of Appeal raises both questions of law and of fact. It is therefore not unusual that the Swedish Courts of Appeal determines questions of fact about the defendant’s guilt, credibility, motives or conflicting information. In cases concerning these matters, the Swedish Appeal Court’s choice to restrict the defendant’s right to an oral hearing can cause a violation of article 6 in the European Convention.

According to the studies about how the reform has been implemented in the Swedish court system, the times when a defendant has received an additional hearing has been very few. The studies also show that in almost half of the Swedish Court of Appeal’s rulings, there has been a change in the District Court’s verdict. The most common reason for a different ruling has been a modification of the penalty, or of the District Court’s view of the defendant’s guilt. Given the nature of the raised questions, how rarely additional hearings occur and the high amount of changed sentences, it is not hard to say that there has been a breach concerning the right to an oral hearing at the Swedish Appeal Courts, after the reform was implemented.

The reform must therefore be adapted to make it compatible with the European Convention and the right to a fair trial, so that the European Court of Human Rights will not convict Sweden of a violation of the European Convention. The Swedish Courts of Appeal should first give better information to the defendants, of their right to have further questions asked at the appeal courts. If the defendant then requests an additional hearing, he or she should be allowed to be heard again and to ask questions to the invoked witnesses. With these new measurements there can be both a modern and a fair trial in the Swedish Appeal Courts. (Less)
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author
Sjöblom, Helena LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Is a more modern trial fair? -The defendant’s right to an oral hearing
course
JURM01 20112
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Europakonventionen, EMR, rätten till en rättvis rättegång, rätten till muntlig förhandling, rätten att åberopa och förhöra vittnen
language
Swedish
id
2338216
date added to LUP
2012-02-17 15:07:30
date last changed
2012-02-17 15:07:30
@misc{2338216,
  abstract     = {On November 1st 2008, the reform "A more modern trial" came into force in the Swedish court system. One aspect of the modernization is that documentation is to be made of testimonies conducted at the Swedish District Courts, with an audio and visual recording. The recording can then, at an appeal, if necessary for the investigation, be played at the court of appeal, instead of having a full rehearing. The played recordings will be considered evidence and the Swedish Appeal Court may, simply on the basis of the playbacks, modify the District Court’s assessment of the defendant’s credibility and the District Court’s verdict without an additional hearing. In the review of the proposed legislation, Prop. 2004/05: 131, the Swedish government discussed, whether the reform could cause any problems due to the Swedish commitment towards the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to a fair trial in article 6. The government reached the conclusion, that a playback of the District Court’s hearings, and the restrictive possibilities for the defendant to ask further questions in the Swedish Appeal Court, is compatible with the European Convention, and the new legislation was implemented.

By studying the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, it is clear that the main rule is that there should be an oral hearing in appeal courts, unless there are exceptional circumstances that can justify dispensing this right. Exceptional circumstances is thought to exist if the appeal court only raises questions of law which cannot be affected by a defendant’s statement, the trial only determines questions of fact that are of technical nature, or if the questions of fact only depends on written expert testimonies that can be adequately resolved on the basis of the case-file. The European Court of Human Rights assessment of whether or not a limitation of the right to an oral hearing can be justified is based on the proceedings seen as a whole. The European Court of Human Rights evaluates the nature of the national appeal system; the scope of the court of appeal’s powers and in what manner the defendant’s interests is protected in the appeal court.

In cases where an appeal court raises questions of fact concerning the defendant’s guilt, credibility or motives, the defendant’s right to an oral hearing is strong. The right is also prominent in cases where there is contradictive information, if the case concerns complicated facts that must be investigated thorough, or if the appeal court gives judgment against the defendant in a case where the district court has ruled in his or her favor. In cases where much is at stakes for the defendant, such as the risk of a distinct increase in the sentence, his or her right to an oral hearing outweighs the appeal court’s demands of efficiency and economy. 

A defendant can waive his or her right to an oral hearing. A waiver can be explicit or implicit. A waiver must though be established in an unequivocal manner and cannot run counter to an important public interest. The defendant must also be aware of the consequences of his or her waiver, for it to have effect. However, when a case concerns severe criminal charges, and much is at stake for the defendant, there should always be an oral hearing, independent of whether the defendant has waived his or her right. 

According to the European Court of Human Rights, an oral hearing has occurred in an appeal court, when the defendant has been given the opportunity to give statement and question the witnesses, whose testimonies are of importance to the verdict. If exceptional circumstances occur, the defendant’s rights can be met with a less strict standard. The defendant should then, at least be granted a chance to comment on the witness testimony in the appeal court, and at an earlier stage been given the opportunity to a more direct contradiction.

The Swedish Courts of Appeal raises both questions of law and of fact. It is therefore not unusual that the Swedish Courts of Appeal determines questions of fact about the defendant’s guilt, credibility, motives or conflicting information. In cases concerning these matters, the Swedish Appeal Court’s choice to restrict the defendant’s right to an oral hearing can cause a violation of article 6 in the European Convention. 

According to the studies about how the reform has been implemented in the Swedish court system, the times when a defendant has received an additional hearing has been very few. The studies also show that in almost half of the Swedish Court of Appeal’s rulings, there has been a change in the District Court’s verdict. The most common reason for a different ruling has been a modification of the penalty, or of the District Court’s view of the defendant’s guilt. Given the nature of the raised questions, how rarely additional hearings occur and the high amount of changed sentences, it is not hard to say that there has been a breach concerning the right to an oral hearing at the Swedish Appeal Courts, after the reform was implemented. 

The reform must therefore be adapted to make it compatible with the European Convention and the right to a fair trial, so that the European Court of Human Rights will not convict Sweden of a violation of the European Convention. The Swedish Courts of Appeal should first give better information to the defendants, of their right to have further questions asked at the appeal courts. If the defendant then requests an additional hearing, he or she should be allowed to be heard again and to ask questions to the invoked witnesses. With these new measurements there can be both a modern and a fair trial in the Swedish Appeal Courts.},
  author       = {Sjöblom, Helena},
  keyword      = {Europakonventionen,EMR,rätten till en rättvis rättegång,rätten till muntlig förhandling,rätten att åberopa och förhöra vittnen},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Är en modernare rättegång rättvis? -Om den tilltalades rätt till muntlig förhandling},
  year         = {2011},
}