European Court of Human Rights - case of Imbrioscia v. Switzerland (1993) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Imbrioscia v. Switzerland (1993) (excerpts)


38. While it confers on everyone charged with a criminal offence

the right to "defend himself in person or through legal

assistance ...", Article 6 para. 3 (c) (art. 6-3-c) does not specify

the manner of exercising this right. It thus leaves to the Contracting

States the choice of the means of ensuring that it is secured in their

judicial systems, the Court's task being only to ascertain whether the

method they have chosen is consistent with the requirements of a fair

trial (see the Quaranta judgment previously cited, Series A no. 205,

p. 16, para. 30). In this respect, it must be remembered that the

Convention is designed to "guarantee not rights that are theoretical

or illusory but rights that are practical and effective" and that

assigning a counsel does not in itself ensure the effectiveness of the

assistance he may afford an accused (see the Artico judgment previously

cited, Series A no. 37, p. 16, para. 33).

In addition, the Court points out that the manner in which

Article 6 paras. 1 and 3 (c) (art. 6-1, art. 6-3-c) is to be applied

during the preliminary investigation depends on the special features

of the proceedings involved and on the circumstances of the case; in

order to determine whether the aim of Article 6 (art. 6) - a fair

trial - has been achieved, regard must be had to the entirety of the

domestic proceedings conducted in the case (see, mutatis mutandis, the

Granger v. the United Kingdom judgment of 28 March 1990, Series A

no. 174, p. 17, para. 44).