Confessions

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Background

Confessions that are obtained from defendants through torture, psychological duress, coercion or by any other non-voluntary method should be inadmissible as evidence against the defendant.

International Sources

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 14, Section 3 -

  • In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:
    • (a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;
    • (b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing; **(c) To be tried without undue delay;
    • (d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;
    • (e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
    • (f) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;
    • (g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.

Examples of standards for the admissibility of confessions

India

No confession made to a police officer is valid as evidence at a trial. All confessions must be made to a Magistrate not below the rank of Judicial Magistrate. The Magistrate taking the confessions must give the accused due time out of the custody of the police, and make an effort to ensure that the accused was not coerced or intimidated in anyway, before receivint the confession. At the bottom of the confession the Magistrate must write out that he has informed the accused that this confession may be used against him and he is not obligated in any way to imcriminate himself (India Criminal Procedure Code Section 51).

Rights of the accused

Table of Contents

Rights/ Protections from Police

Rights during Detention

Rights at Trial

Sentencing

Rights in Prison