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New EU project at our department

Starting September 1, the Media Governance Lab has launched a project designed to counter the presentation of suspects and accused persons as guilty, in courtrooms and public, particularly by the media.

The project "SIR – The Importance of Appearances: How Suspects and Accused Persons are Presented in the Courtroom, in Public and in the Media" will be conducted by the Media Governance & Industries Research Lab (led by Professor Katharine Sarikakis) together with lead partner the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC). Funding is provided through the European Union's Justice Programme (2014-2020). In addition to the University of Vienna, further HHC partners for the project include: Aditus, Fair Trials Europe, Human Rights House Zagreb, Mérték, and Rights International Spain.

Professor Sarikakis stated that "this project will benefit many of the roughly eight million people who become suspects every year in the European Union, by promoting greater respect, especially by the media, for the presumption of innocence – a cornerstone of any democratic justice system."

The project will further the correct implementation of Directive 2016/343, through a reduction of the presentation of suspects and accused persons in court and public in ways creating a perception of guilt. It will increase knowledge and capacities of stakeholders regarding respect for the presumption of innocence, identify good practices and provide guidance on how to present defendants, and sensitise public authorities, the media and the public to the importance of the manner in which defendants are presented.

In addition, the project will involve production of: an international comparative analysis research document; a pilot sociological survey and subsequent report; national court reports; national media reports on the presentation of defendants; comparative court-media reports; a database of good practices; and court/media toolkits; an advocacy film; a comparative regional report; a summary report; national and regional conferences and roundtables; press conferences; and advocacy materials.

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