You have a right to have your witnesses called to the court hearing and to question witnesses who testify against you. You and the state institution in the trial must be given this opportunity under equal conditions.

Admission of witness statements

Witness testimony is evidence and therefore, like any other evidence, must be relevant to the case and lawfully obtained. 

The court is obliged to call only the witnesses whose testimony is relevant to your case. Therefore, if you want a certain witness to be called on your behalf, you must explain to the court why you consider his /her testimony to be important for your case. If you have given good reasons for inviting a witness to the court, but it has refused to call this witness, the court must provide you with reasons for such refusal. 

The witnesses from both parties must be treated equally. Your rights will have been violated if the court has invited an important witness on behalf of the state institution, but has refused to invite your equally important and relevant witness.

Evaluation of evidence

According to the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure and Code of Criminal Procedure, the court can also assess the reliability of evidence. In its assessment, the court can take all the facts and circumstances of your case into account. The testimony of all witnesses is equally reliable when given. No witness can be presumed to be more reliable than any other without an individual assessment. 

Absence of a witness

If a witness, who has given a written statement against you, is not able to participate in the trial, there have to be very good reasons for his/her absence. Although you have the right to question any witness, the fact that a certain witness is not present at the trial will not always violate your right to a fair trial. However, if the testimony of a witness is decisive to your conviction and you have not had the opportunity to question this person, it will more than likely result in a violation of your rights. 

In cases where a witness is absent, the state institution must put in all reasonable efforts to find that witness and bring him/her to the court. However, if the state institution has done what is reasonable and the witness cannot be found or brought to the trial, the court can still continue to examine your case. 

In certain exceptional situations, for example, if a witness has died while the proceedings have been taking place, or he/she cannot be found, the court can use an earlier statement by the witness, in the trial. However, when using such statement, the court must make sure that it is sufficiently reliable and supported by other evidence. This standard is even higher if such statement is decisive to your conviction.


Last updated 11/11/2018