The Right to Silence in the EU Directive 2016/343 on the Strengthening of Certain Aspects of the Presumption of Innocence from the Perspective of Polish Criminal Proceedings

Andrzej Sakowicz

Faculty of Law, University of Bialystok , Poland


The right to remain silent is one of the most fundamental principles of domestic and international criminal law. It’s is also closely related to the presumption of innocence. As the responsibility is placed on the prosecution to prove the guilt of a person it follows that the accused should not be forced to assist the prosecution by being forced to speak. The right to remain silent expresses the individual’s right not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt. Its core component is the freedom to choose whether or not  to give answers to individual questions or to provide explanations. To use against the suspected silence under police questioning and his refusal to testify during trial amounted to subverting the presumption of innocence and the onus of proof resulting from that presumption: it is for the prosecution to prove the accused’s guilt without any assistance from the latter being required. This article has to objectives. Firstly, to interpret the right to remain silent in the light to of the Directive 2016/343 on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceeding. Secondly, the  Directive 2016/343 can be used as reference to evaluate a degree to which Polish legal solutions conform to the Directive in question, giving rise to several postulates  in  that  matter. The analysis will also include shortages and problems resulting from imperfect Polish criminal process in that field.

Aselmann Maike. 2004. Die Selbstbelastungs- und Verteidigungsfreiheitm, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang.

Berger Mark.2007. “Self-Incrimination and the European Court of Human Rights: Procedural Issues in the Enforcement of the Right to Silence”, European Human Rights Law Review 5:515-535.

Billing M.W. Fenella. 2016. The Right to Silence in Transnational Criminal Proceedings Comparative Law Perspectives, Springer.

Błoński Michał. 2011. Wyjaśnienia oskarżonego w polskim procesie karnym [Explanations of a defendant in the Polish criminal process], Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego.

Chankowska Jolanta. 2005. „O prawie oskarżonego do milczenia słów kilka [A few words on the right of the defendant to remain silent]”, Palestra 5–6:125-135.

Cras Steven, Erbežnik Anže. 2016. “The Directive on the Presumption of Innocence and the Right to Be Present at Trial”, Eucrim 1:25-36.

Dudek Dariusz. 1999., Konstytucyjna wolność człowieka a tymczasowe aresztowanie [Constitutional freedom of individuals and temporary detention], Lublin: Lubelskie Wydawnictwo Prawnicze.

Emmerson Ben, Ashworth Andrew, Macdonald Alison, L-T Choo Andrew, Summers Mark. 2012. Human Rights and Criminal Justice, London: Sweet & Maxwell.

Eser Albin. 1974. „Der Schulz vor Selbstbezeichnung im deutschen Strafprozessrecht“. In: Deutsche strafrechtliche Landesreferate zum IX. Internationalem Kongreß für Rechtsvergleichung Teheran 1974, ed. Hans-Heinrich Jescheck, 136-171, Berlin: De Gruyter

Goss Ryan. 2016. Criminal Fair Trial Rights. Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford, Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing.

Harris David J., O’Boyle Michael, Bates P. Ed, Buckley Carla (ed.). 2014. Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hofmański Piotr, Wróbel Andrzej. 2010. In Konwencja o Ochronie Praw Człowieka i Podstawowych Wolności. Komentarz [Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. A commentary], ed. Leszek Garlicki, 405. Warszawa: C. H. Beck

Nickl Rolf. 1978., Das Schweigen des Beschuldigten und seine Bedeutung für die Beweiswürdigung, München: Universität Dissertation.

Lamberigts Stijn. 2016. “The Directive on the Presumption of Innocence A Missed opportunity for Legal Persons?”, Eucrim 1: 36-42.

Lópe Luisa Villamarín María. 2017. “The presumption of innocence in Directive 2016/343/EU of 9 March 2016”, ERA Forum 18: 335-353.

Marszał Kazimierz, Stachowiak Stanisław, Zgryzek Kazimierz. 2002. Proces karny [Criminal process], Katowice: Volumen,.

Rogall Klaus. `977. Der Beschuldigte als Beweismittel gegen sich selbst, Berlin, Duncker & Humbolt.

Rüping Hinrich. 1974. „Zur Mitwirkungspflicht des Beschuldigten und Angeklagten“, Juristische Rundschau 1974, 4:135-140.

Sakowicz, Andrzej. 2018. “The right to remain silent on the Court’s case-law - European Court of Human Rights”, Ius Novum 2:120-136. DOI: 10.26399/iusnovum.v12.2.2018.19/a.sakowicz.

Sakowicz Andrzej. 2019. Prawo do milczenia w polskim procesie karnym [The right to silence in the Polish criminal proces], Białystok: Temida 2, 2019.

Sakowicz Andrzej. 2014. “The right to remain silent in the Polish criminal process”. In: Current Problems of the Penal Law and the Criminology. Aktuelle Probleme des Strafrechts und der Kriminologie, ed./Hrsg. Emil W. Pływaczewski, 195-208. Warszawa: C. H. Beck.

Seebode Manfred. 1970. „Schweigen des Beschuldigten zur Person“, Monatsschrift für Deutsches Recht 3:185-189.

Schabas A., William. 2017. The European Convention on Human Rights. A commentary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Trechsel Stefan. 2002. Human Rights in Criminal Proceedings, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Weigend Thomas. 2019. “Defense Rights in European Legal Systems under the Influence of the European Court of Human Right”. In: The Oxford Handbook of Criminal Process, eds. Darryl K. Brown, Jenia Iontcheva Turner, and Bettina Weisse, Oxford: Oxford Press, 2019, 165-188. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190659837.013.35.

Wessels Johannes. 1966. „Schweigen und Lugen in Strafverfahren“, Juristische Schulung 1966, Heft 5:169-176.

Wiliński Paweł. 2006. Zasada prawa do obrony w polskim procesie karnym [The principle of the right of defense in the Polish criminal process], Warsaw: WoltersKluwer.

Wróbel Włodzimierz. 2010. „Konstytucyjne prawo do obrony w perspektywie prawa karnego materialnego” [Consitutional right of defense from the perspective of substantive criminal law]. In: Węzłowe problemy prawa karnego, kryminologii i polityki kryminalnej. Księga pamiątkowa ofiarowana Profesorowi Andrzejowi Markowi [Key problems of criminal law, criminology, and criminal policy. A commemorative book offered to Professor Andrzej Marek], eds. Violetta Konarska-Wrzosek, Jerzy Lachowski, Janusz Wójcikiewicz, 215-229. Warszaw: WoltersKluwer.


Sakowicz, A. (2020). The Right to Silence in the EU Directive 2016/343 on the Strengthening of Certain Aspects of the Presumption of Innocence from the Perspective of Polish Criminal Proceedings. Review of European and Comparative Law, 41(2), 55–80.

Andrzej Sakowicz
Faculty of Law, University of Bialystok


Creative Commons CC-BY