Personal Participation in Criminal Proceedings, In Absentia Trials and Inaudito Reo Procedures. Solution Models and Deficiencies in ECtHR Case-Law

  • Stefano RuggeriEmail author
Part of the Legal Studies in International, European and Comparative Criminal Law book series (LSCL, volume 2)


Notwithstanding the failure of the drafters of the European Convention to enact a general provision regarding the right to be present at trial, Strasbourg case-law, by means of a comprehensive view of the right to a fair hearing, has long recognised the possibility of personal participation of defendants in criminal proceedings. This acknowledgment, however, has not led to the Court excluding the lawfulness of restrictions on this fundamental guarantee by means of procedures, such as default proceedings, which rule out any involvement of the accused. It would, however, be oversimplifying to affirm, that the contribution of European case-law was circumscribed to the right to merely be present at trial and its limitations.

This study provides a systematic examination of the way the Strasbourg Court has reinterpreted the participatory safeguards over almost four decades. This allows us to observe the development of the qualitative conditions of personal involvement of defendants in criminal proceedings, and the forms in which they can give their contribution to fact-finding. Further developments, moreover, can be expected in the near future. On the one hand, the rising focus of the European case-law on the protection of fundamental rights of individuals other than the accused, such as vulnerable witnesses and victims, poses the question of whether and to what extent the Convention’s participatory safeguards can also be extended particularly to the aggrieved parties. The Court has until recently dealt with this question only in specific fields, such as that of inaudito reo procedures. On the other, the delicate field of transnational criminal justice increasingly poses specific challenges, which make the approach now followed by European case-law in relation to the accused’s participatory rights somehow outdated especially in the EU area of freedom, security and justice.


European Convention ECHR case-law Participatory rights In absentia trials Inaudito reo procedures 



American Convention of Human Rights


Code of Criminal Procedure


European Convention on Human Rights


European Commission of Human Rights


European Court of Human Rights


European Union


Inter-American Court of Human Rights


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Law ‘Salvatore Pugliatti’Messina UniversityMessinaItaly

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