- Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
A fair hearing means that an unbiased and independent tribunal must perform it within a reasonable amount of time. The accused must have access to all relevant information regarding its rights, obligations, and furthermore all information regarding the process of the hearing and decision. A fair hearing also includes the right to present your case, witnesses, evidence, etc. The tribunals can not deny a person the right to present their case.
In 1991 non-Roma residents burned down the houses of a whole Roma village in Romania after a dispute. When the Roma people alarmed the local authorities, they dismissed the case without proper investigation saying that it was the Romas own fault this happened. The Roma villagers took the case to the European Court of Human Rights. The EU court determined that the Roma villager’s rights were violated, as they did not receive a fair hearing and that the local authorities had failed to investigate the case properly. Each of the Roma villagers was given financial compensation and they initiated anti-discrimination campaigns in the local community.
Article 10 of the declaration also states the right to a public hearing. This means that the general public and media have access to the details of the charge, trial, and sentencing of a person. A public trial helps ensure that an unfair hearing is not covered up behind closed doors. This way if the person under suspicion has its rights violated, it can not be hidden from the public, which aims to ensure that the tribunals are not corrupt. There are exceptions where the hearing doesn’t have to be open to the public and media. The hearing can remain private if the case is of sensitivity to the person in question or his family. Cases involving minors will often remain private.
Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen