About the Commission
The Criminal Cases Review Commission decides whether convicted persons should have their cases retried in a different court. The Commission is independent of the police, the prosecution authority and the courts.
The Commission must ensure an objective assessment of whether the statutory conditions for reopening are met.
The most important grounds for reopening a final conviction to the courts for a retrial are:
- There is a new piece of evidence or a new circumstance which seems likely to lead to an acquittal or a more lenient sanction.
- An international court or the UN Human Rights Committee has found the conviction, or the proceedings, in breach of international law, and it must be assumed that a new trial will lead to a different result.
- Someone who has had crucial dealings with the case has committed a criminal offence, evidence has been falsified, or witnesses have knowingly given a false statement, and it cannot be ruled out that this has affected the conviction to the detriment of the convicted person.
- Special circumstances cast doubt on the correctness of the conviction and weighty considerations indicate that the question of guilt should be retried.
The Commission and the statutory conditions for reopening a final conviction are regulated by chapter 27 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
If the case is reopened, the court will retry the question of guilt and/or the sentence. The case will be retried by a different court of equal standing as the court that delivered the original judgment.
The Commission is composed of five permanent members and three alternate members. The Chair is appointed by the King in Council for a period of seven years. The other members and alternate members are appointed by the King in Council for a period of three years and may be reappointed once. The Chair is employed full-time and is also the head of the secretariat.
The Chair, Vice Chair, one of the members, and two of the alternate members must have obtained a Master of Laws degree. The other members have different professional backgrounds. This forms a broadly composed commission with experience from the judicial system and society in general.
The Commission is obligated to provide guidance to the convicted persons and to make sure the case is thoroughly/sufficiently investigated. The Commission may gather information in any way it sees fit. The Commission may conduct interviews or interrogations with the convicted person or witnesses. It may conduct oral hearings and seek a court order to obtain evidence. It can also seek a court order to initiate a personal examination, an observation, or use of coercive measures. The Commission may give a surrender order, may appoint expert witnesses and may conduct an inquiry. In special cases, the Commission can also request the prosecuting authority to investigate.
The Commission may reject an application for review which, due to its nature, cannot be reopened or which obviously cannot succeed. Such decisions can also be made by the Chair or the Vice Chair alone.
The secretariat assists the Commission in this work.
The Commission decides its own working method and cannot be instructed on how to exercise its authority.
The Commission has been active since January 2004.