Single title

The Rights of Suspects and Defendants in Criminal Proceedings in South East Europe

by PhD Stefanie Ricarda Roos

Volume I - Studies in Original Language

INTRODUCTION by Stefanie Ricarda Roos Criminal Procedure is much more than a purely technical device: It is applied constitutional law, a seismograph of the Constitution, and an indicator of the legal and political culture of a people. It is for this reason that the promotion of criminal procedural law, insofar as it secures respect for human rights and fundamental principles of the rule of law, is one of the goals of the Rule of Law Program South East Europe (RLP SEE) of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. For the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Rule of Law Program wishes to support the establishment and consolidation of democratic states based on the rule of the law in South East Europe. In view of the Rule of Law Program’s emphasis on procedural law, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – through the RLP SEE – decided to highlight one of the focus issues in the area of justice during the German EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2007, i.e. the promotion of certain procedural rights in criminal proceedings throughout the European Union (see preface by Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister of Justice, Germany, and summary of contents and objectives of the proposal for a Council Framework Decision on such rights). The RLP SEE – which, with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania, who joined the EU on 1 January 2007, is currently composed of non-EU members only (i.e. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) – intends to support this initiative despite the fact that it focuses on the safeguarding of procedural rights within the EU. Two main points motivate this decision: First, the RLP SEE wishes to support the programme participant countries in calibrating their legal orders to the European legal structure and order. Many countries of the region are currently undergoing, or have just finished, criminal law reforms regarding both substantive and procedural criminal law. These reforms, though local in nature, shall not take place irrespective of legal initiatives and developments in the area of criminal procedural law at the European level. Rather, the countries in South East Europe which are not members of the EU still need to be engaged in European developments prior to their accession to the European Union. This is also recommendable because these countries should be prepared as soon as possible to participate in European legal reforms and processes. The European initiative for the promotion of minimum standards with regard to procedural rights in criminal proceedings (which Germany intends to re-initiate, re-vitalize, and further develop during its Council Presidency) is one such legal reform and process. Second, all the program participant countries are members of the Council of Europe, and as such are parties to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The abovementioned focus issue in the area of justice during the German EU Council Presidency is directly linked to the procedural guarantees of the European Convention, which the Rule of Law Program South East Europe wishes to promote in the countries of South East Europe. One means of promoting the abovementioned Council initiative is the comparative law study at hand. Distinguished authors from Bulgaria, Romania, and six other South Eastern European countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) participated in this study. The experts were asked to examine the legal status quo (i.e. law and practice) with regard to the procedural rights of suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings.