In dubio pro reo principle

Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 27.09.2007 LIMAJ et al.

21. The Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the principle of in dubio pro reo, as a corollary to the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,[1] applies to findings required for conviction, such as those which make up the elements of the crime charged. This approach is consistent with the case-law of the International Tribunal and is a logical approach, given that, in the context of issues of fact, the principle is essentially just one aspect of the requirement that guilt must be found beyond a reasonable doubt.[2] In Naletilić and Martinović, the Appeals Chamber recognized the applicability of this principle to the mens rea requirement of knowledge of the existence of an armed conflict.[3] Similarly, the Naletilić and Martinović Trial Chamber applied the principle in the context of the crime of torture: It held that the evidence did not allow the Trial Chamber to distinguish between beatings that were inflicted with a specific purpose – which is required to establish the crime of torture ‑ and beatings that may have been inflicted for reasons of pure cruelty, but not with a specific purpose. Consequently, the Trial Chamber found in dubio pro reo that the specific purpose necessary for torture had not been established beyond reasonable doubt.[4] Further, the principle of in dubio pro reo is not applied to individual pieces of evidence and findings of fact on which the judgement does not rely. For example, in Kvočka et al., the Appeals Chamber dismissed Prcać’s argument that the Trial Chamber failed to apply the principle when it found that Prcać was an administrative assistant at the Omarska camp.[5] The Appeals Chamber held that the finding that Prcać was an administrative assistant was not a fact aimed at conviction or an element of the crime charged, and thus the in dubio pro reo inquiry did not apply.

See Judge Shahabuddeen’s and Judge Schomburg’s declarations.

[1] See Čelebići Trial Judgement, para. 601. See also Christine V. D. Wyngaert (ed.), Criminal Procedure Systems in the European Community Butterworths, London (1993) at 21 (Belgium), 148 (Germany), 324 (Portugal), and Christoph J. M. Safferling, Towards an International Criminal Procedure, OUP, New York (2001) at 260.

[2] See Naletilić and Martinović Appeal Judgement, para. 120; Stakić Appeal Judgement, paras 102-103. Naletilić and Martinović Trial Judgement, footnote 1100. See also [ Prosecutor v. Duško Tadić a/k/a “Dule”, Case No. IT-94-1-AR-72, Decision on the Defence Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, 2 October 1995], para. 143.

[3] Naletilić and Martinović Appeal Judgement, para. 120.

[4] Naletilić and Martinović Trial Judgement, fn. 1100.

[5] Kvočka et al. Appeal Judgement, paras 623-624.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on Additional Evidence - 16.10.1998 TADIĆ Duško

G.      Interests of Justice

69.     As mentioned above, the Appeals Chamber finds that the following items were not available at trial within the meaning of Rule 115 (A): […] In relation to these items and […] the evidence of witness D.D., it will accordingly be necessary to consider the operation of the criteria relating to the interests of justice.

70.     If the Appeals Chamber at this stage authorises the presentation of additional evidence, it will be for the Chamber at a later stage to decide whether the evidence discloses an “error of fact which has occasioned a miscarriage of justice” within the meaning of Article 25, paragraph 1(b), of the Statute. At this stage, the Chamber cannot pre-empt this decision by definitively deciding that the proposed evidence does or does not disclose “an error of fact which has occasioned a miscarriage of justice”.

71.     The task of the Appeals Chamber at this stage is to apply the somewhat more flexible formula of Rule 115 of the Rules, which requires the Chamber to “authorise the presentation of such evidence if it considers that the interests of justice so require”. For the purposes of this case, the Chamber considers that the interests of justice require admission only if:

          (a) the evidence is relevant to a material issue;

          (b) the evidence is credible; and

          (c) the evidence is such that it would probably show that the conviction was unsafe.

72.     The Appeals Chamber would only add that, in applying these criteria, account has to be taken of the principle of finality of decisions. As mentioned above, the principle would not operate to prevent the admission of evidence that would assist in determining whether there could have been a miscarriage of justice. But clearly the principle does suggest a limit to the admissibility of additional evidence at the appellate stage.

73.     The Appeals Chamber also considers that, in applying these criteria, any doubt should be resolved in favour of the Appellant in accordance with the principle in dubio pro reo.

[RULE 115 OF THE ICTY RULES WAS SUBSEQUENTLY AMENDED ON 12 July 2002, 30 September 2002, and 21 July 2005]

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ICTR Statute Article 24 ICTY Statute Article 25 ICTR Rule Rule 115 ICTY Rule Rule 115