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Suspects, defendants and victims in the French criminal process: the context of recent reform

By Jacqueline Hodgson


The recent reform adopted by the French Parliament, the Loi of 15 June 2000, touches upon a wide range of matters from investigation and detention through to trial and appeal, all within a project designed to ‘reinforce the presumption of innocence and the rights of victims’.1 It is part of a broader reform package which originally included strengthening the independence of the procureur2 from the hierarchical control of the Minister of Justice and changing the way in which magistrats3 are selected,4 together with the measures already enacted in June of 1999 to simplify and clarify aspects of criminal procedure and to reduce delay.5 A large part of the June 2000 reform seeks to strengthen the rights of the accused and the safeguards designed to ensure her proper treatment at all stages of the criminal process. Such rhetoric and aspirations stand in contrast to the Home Office and government discourse to which we have become accustomed on this side of the Channel, a discourse dominated by macho language expressing a desire to ‘get tough’ and ‘crackdown’ on crime and presumed criminals.6 Against the backdrop of almost mandatory defence disclosure and the curtailment of the right to silence in this jurisdiction, provisions which strengthen the rights of the accused and provide her with more information about the case against her together with greater opportunities to influence the pre-trial investigation, will make English criminal justice scholars nostalgic for a time when the rights of the accused were seen as something other than ‘a criminal's charter’

Topics: HV
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2002
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