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Wrongful Conviction

The interest in forestalling wrongful convictions is presently worldwide and not bound to any district or kind of criminal equity framework. Wrongful convictions are terrible, they can happen at anyplace, and they are a genuine basic freedoms issue.
  1. Over the last several decades, wrongful convictions of persons condemned to death have been documented in every region of the world. In some cases, innocent men and women have spent decades on death row before being exonerated and released. In others, they have been executed before evidence of their innocence has come to light. The prevalence of wrongful convictions has exposed the fallibility of every criminal justice model and has led some states to abolish the death penalty altogether. To date, there have been few in-depth comparative studies of the causes of wrongful capital convictions.
  2. Most empirical research on the topic has focused on the United States, where death row exonerations have been highly publicized.
  3. This report, by contrast, explores the phenomenon of wrongful convictions in six different jurisdictions representing a range of geographical regions, legal traditions, and political contexts. It addresses the main endeavour to recognize the foundational factors in every country that improve the probability that innocent people will be condemned to death. Each of our country chapters includes research on the failings of the criminal justice system as well as an individual case study.

The case studies illustrate how different risk factors play out in capital prosecutions (though the risk factors are invariably more extensive than any one case can represent). The case studies also highlight the problematic gap between constitutional and legislative protections for those facing the death penalty, and states� failure to implement those safeguards in practice. Our research results confirm what experts and practitioners have long warned: no criminal justice system is free of error, regardless of the system, region, or political regime, and any state that applies the death penalty will inevitably sentence innocent people to an irreversible punishment.

We selected some of our country targets, such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria, with the knowledge that, thanks to our partners� work, averred innocence cases had already come to public attention. For Cameroon, Malawi, and Jordan, however, this study represents the first attempt to locate and discuss cases of innocence on death row. Though the latter country experts faced greater logistical (and sometimes political) hurdles in pioneering this research, they had no difficulty in identifying cases that presented all the warning signs of wrongful capital convictions.

For the purposes of this report, we define wrongful conviction as a case in which the available evidence indicates that the defendant was factually innocent of the capital offense for which he or she was convicted. We intentionally employ a narrow definition of the term so as to avoid any debate over terminology; we therefore exclude cases in which the defendant committed the crime but was legally insane. It is worth noting, however, that the legal definition of wrongful conviction could be much broader, encompassing unfair trials and miscarriages of justice even where there is some evidence that the defendant committed a crime.

This research relied heavily upon partnerships with in-country experts, primarily practicing capital defence lawyers and human rights organizations engaged in advocacy and reform efforts around death penalty issues. The researchers conducted interviews of lawyers and activists, analysed case files gathered on site (including police reports, trial transcripts, witness statements, client interviews, and judicial decisions), and conducted follow-up factual investigations. The researchers also engaged in desk research to expand their understanding of risk factors in individual countries, analysing reports, articles, and conclusions issued by international and regional human rights bodies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and the media.

For what reason Should a State Compensate the Wrongly Convicted?

Despite their proven innocence, the difficulty of re-entering society is profound for the wrongfully convicted; the failure to compensate them adds insult to injury. Society has an obligation to promptly provide compassionate assistance to the wrongfully convicted in the following ways:
  • Monetary Compensation, Based Upon a Set Minimum Amount For Each Year Served
  • Provision of Immediate Services, Including:
    • Financial help for fundamental necessities, including means reserves, food, transportation
    • Help securing affordable housing;
    • Provision of clinical/dental consideration, and mental and additionally guiding administrations;
    • Assistance with schooling education and the advancement of labour force abilities; and
    • Legal administrations to acquire public advantages, erase criminal records, and recover authority of kids.

Official Acknowledgement of a Wrongful Conviction

Conceding that no system is perfect, the government�s public recognition of the harm inflicted upon a wrongfully convicted person helps to foster his healing process, while assuring the public that the government � regardless of fault � is willing to take ownership or responsibility for wrongs or blunders

Do all states have compensation statutes?

The federal government, the District of Columbia, and 35 states have compensation statutes of some form. The following 15 states do not: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

What Are Common Shortcomings in Existing Legislation?

  • Insufficient financial pay and social administrations.
  • Refusing to enact uniform, statutory access to wrongful conviction compensation. Some states opt to compensate the wrongfully convicted only via private compensation bills. This approach: politicizes compensation based on the individuals and policymakers involved; requires exonerees to mount costly and demanding political campaigns; and threatens to deny appropriate � or any � compensation to those who truly deserve it.
  • Prohibiting compensation to those deemed to have contributed to their wrongful convictions. This provision can deny justice to those who were coerced, explicitly or implicitly, into confessing or pleading guilty to crimes it was proven they did not commit.
  • Denying the additional remedy deserved by those who can prove their wrongful convictions resulted from patent and intentional civil rights violations, as opposed to simple error.
  • Preventing the compensation of individuals with unrelated, felony convictions.

What Can Be Done to Ensure Fair Compensation In Every State?
By guaranteeing compensation to the wrongfully convicted, a state can make a significant stride towards guaranteeing the uprightness of its criminal equity framework.
  • States that do not have compensation statutes must pass them and states that have pay rules should rethink them to guarantee they make pay similarly feasible and sufficient for the wrongfully convicted.
  • Statutes should include either a fixed sum or a range of recovery for each year spent in prison. President George W. Bush endorsed Congress�s recommended amount of up to $50,000 per year, with up to an additional $50,000 for each year spent on death row. Adjusted for inflation, this amount is $63,000.
  • In Texas, an even more robust compensation framework is in place, compensating the wrongfully convicted $80,000 per year and an annuity set at the same amount.
  • Statutes should include the immediate provision of subsistence funds and access to services critical to a successful return to society, including housing, food, psychological counselling, medical and dental care, job skills training, education, and other relevant assistance needed to foster the successful rebuilding of the lives of the wrongfully convicted.
  • Statutes should not contain the provisions noted in the Common Shortcomings in Existing Legislation section above.

Case in Point (example): Compensation in Florida
In 2004, Floridian Wilton Dedge was exonerated after having been forced to spend 22 years in prison for a rape and burglary that he did not commit. Upon his release from wrongful imprisonment, however, Mr. Dedge was entitled to absolutely nothing from the state. Mr. Dedge�s lawsuit against the state was dismissed by the trial court. His only alternative to the courts was to seek a private compensation bill from the legislature.

Despite the public outcry over the injustice he had suffered, the legislature initially refused to pass the private bill necessary to compensate him. (Florida did eventually pass a private bill for Mr. Dedge and in 2008, passed a universal statute, obviating the need for the extraordinary advocacy that was needed for Mr. Dedge.) Having to convince the legislature of the need for compensation makes it a political issue, and successfully suing in court presents a new set of legal and financial obstacles to the wrongfully convicted � when compensation should be a simple issue of justice.

There is simply no question that when an innocent person has had his life stripped from him only to endure the horror of prison, justice demands that the individual be compensated for the harm suffered. States should adequately and promptly provide justice and restoration to the wrongly convicted through a standard, navigable, and just process.

Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), signatories are needed to find ways to guarantee the privilege to pay for wrongful conviction and confinement. While India had communicated reservations while endorsing the ICCPR that the Indian overall set of laws doesn't perceive the privilege to pay for casualties of unlawful capture and confinement, the statute made by the Supreme Court of India has reserved this spot repetitive.

In a number of judgments, the Supreme Court has recognised granting of compensation as a necessary public law remedy for violations of fundamental rights, including wrongful incarceration and arrests. For instance, the Supreme Court, last year, provided a compensation of 50 lakhs to former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, 24 years after he was illegally detained on the charge of leaking official secrets to a spy racket.

The fact that the payment of compensation was ordered 24 years after the wrongful arrest is a serious reminder of the need to correct wrongs caused by unlawful arrests in a timely manner and to preserve liberty. This calls for statutory recognition of the right to compensation in cases of wrongful arrests and imprisonment, which the victims of such accusations can avail without waiting for another several years of litigation before the courts.

Unlawful arrests and detention not only cause loss of years, but can also create social stigma and ostracization even after being released. This is evident from powerful narrative accounts by individuals who have been victims of false prosecutions.

For instance, in her book Prisoner No. 100: An Account of My Nights and Days in an Indian Prison, political activist Anjum Zamarud Habib (from Kashmir) recounts her experiences of having spent five years in jail before being released by the Delhi High Court. Anjum writes in her book, I am a free person today but the wounds and scars that jail has inflicted on me are not only difficult, but impossible to heal.

Framed As a Terrorist:

My 14-Year Struggle to Prove My Innocence is another harrowing narrative of a young Indian Muslim man, Mohammad Aamir Khan, who was kidnapped by the police, falsely accused of being a terrorist, framed, and kept in jail for almost 14 years. Providing compensation to such victims of wrongful arrests, detention and prosecution is the least that the state could do as reparations for the wrong done.

Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, etc. have enacted a statutory right to compensation, but it is limited to wrongful conviction by virtue of a final order, after all avenues of appeal have been exhausted and a new fact surfaces, which then proves conclusively that the convicted person was factually innocent.

In its 277th report titled Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies (August 2018), the Law Commission of India has rightly pointed that the practices of Western countries would be inadequate to address the systemic shortcomings of the criminal justice system in India, where individuals have spent several years in imprisonment even prior to a conviction.

The Law Commission has recommended the norm of 'improper arraignment' be applied in India. This standard will be relevant to situations where the police or arraignment perniciously, erroneously or carelessly researched or indicted an individual who was seen not as liable of the wrongdoing. While expressing that India should satisfy its worldwide responsibilities, the Commission suggested certain particular alterations in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 to join the arrangements for remuneration. The Commission even introduced a draft revision bill for the CrPC. In any case, Parliament has not paid any regard to the perceptions and proposals of the Law Commission to date.

Moreover, as a result of lack of financial resources and knowledge about Supreme Court judgments, many individuals may not even think of directly approaching the Supreme Court to seek compensation. A statutory right to compensation will provide a legal remedy to the citizens and will subsequently make the state officials, in particular, the police, institutionally liable.

Article 14 (6) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights makes it mandatory for countries to have a statutory framework for providing compensation and rehabilitation to those who have been wrongfully prosecuted by the State. This provision, adopted by many countries across the world � but not yet by India that is otherwise a party to the treaty � stems from a simple, natural principle: If the State, in its performance of sovereign functions, has wrongfully taken away the life or liberty of an individual, it needs to remedy it.

The general concept of cure, nonetheless, represents an unpredictable, jurisprudential issue when defied with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution � the privilege to life and freedom. For, the State, whose very presence is to ensure residents the opportunity of life and freedom, can return neither on the off chance that they have been unjustly removed. For sure the focal contention made by those went against to the legitimate removing of the privilege to life (capital punishment) is that the state ought not remove what it can never give. Nonetheless, while the legal removing of life isn't that regular in India, the unfair disavowal of the privilege to freedom is widespread.

Recommendations and shortcomings
Drawing upon the testimonies of innocents, the Law Commission�s report points out the case of Md Nisaruddin Ahmed as one of the gravest instances of miscarriage of justice in the country. Ahmed was an accused in the 1993 serial blasts in trains case and was declared innocent by the Supreme Court and released in 2016 after 23 years in custody. The reports points out:
Compensation under this framework will include both pecuniary and non-pecuniary assistance...while pecuniary assistance will be in terms of monetary award as may be determined by the special court; non-pecuniary assistance will be awarded in the form of services such as counselling, mental health services, vocational/employment skills development, and such other similar services. Non pecuniary assistance shall also include a specific provision for removing disqualification attached to a prosecution or conviction...

Case Laws
It was in 1983 when the Supreme Court in Rudul Shah v. State of Bihar, for the first time, faced a dilemma to whether or not award compensation to the wrongfully convicted victim whose fundamental rights were violated.

The petitioner was unlawfully detained in prison for �14 years� and filed a Habeas Corpus petition before the Supreme Court underArt.32 of the Constitution demanding for compensation along with other reliefs. The Court believed that Article 21, would be denuded if the Court ordered for mere acquittal of the petitioner without any grant of compensation.

The Supreme Court awarded Rs. 30,000 as compensation to the petitioner and held that the scope of Art.32 is sufficiently broad to include the �power to grant compensation� for infringements of fundamental rights only in cases where the infringement of rights is gross.

The grant of reimbursement by the Supreme Court, according to Art.32 and the High Court under Art.226 of the Constitution, is collective reparation dependent on the strict liability of breaches of constitutional rights.

The Court, while hearing a writ petition in the case of Ram Lakhan Singh v State of UP, ordered a compensation amount of Rs.10 lakhs to the petitioner who fought a prolonged legal battle for ten years and also spent 11 days in jail. In another case, a nine-year-old child died due to police�s atrocities whose kin was awarded a compensation amount of Rs. 75000

India is a government assistance state, and its general set of laws has developed dramatically throughout the most recent couple of years. The framework essentially affects all aspects of the resident's life, from origination to death. In such a circumstance, state outrages are an infringement of common liberties with regards to illicit indictments.

Guaranteeing the security of the individual and the propagation of the standards of Natural Justice, the rule of law are the 'sine qua non' for an enlightened society. In any case, it takes solid self control with respect to the decision gathering to guarantee that rule of peace and law are kept up and that residents' privileges are ensured, in this way making it an edified society.
Wrongfully accused victims are deprived of their basic fundamental rights. The appalling state of the victims, following their conviction, manifests the state�s unwise approach to these victims. After their release from prison, the victims depend on the state�s mercy.

Casualties are dependent upon a wide range of injury, and no state help is given. A few grant reports consistently show how casualties and their families are influenced by these injuries. Since it relies entirely upon the desire of the court to give remuneration or not, it has shown a non-uniform methodology which sabotages the public's trust in the legal executive.

A cautious audit of cases and the Court's viewpoint towards these victims doesn't wipe out the presence of an inquiry with respect to how the State and the Courts have neglected to ensure their crucial rights. The non-award of remuneration for the Bomb impact charged, who later ended up being guiltless following quite a while of preliminary, compels us to consider the rapid and reasonable conveyance of equity in our country.

The compensation scheme varies from case to case, making it inconsistent, capricious and arbitrary. Inexplicably, the mere granting of the compensation constitutes a small step towards restoring the status quo of the victims.

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