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International Human Rights Law

International Human Rights Law (9th edn)

Rhona K. M. Smith
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date: 22 March 2023

p. 27415. Equality before the law—the right to a fair triallocked

p. 27415. Equality before the law—the right to a fair triallocked

  • Rhona K. M. SmithRhona K. M. SmithProfessor of International Human Rights and Head of Law School, Newcastle University


This chapter discusses the right to be recognized as a person before the law; the equality of persons before the law; the prohibition on retroactive penal legislation; the position of courts under the law; the presumption of innocence; and those rights that accrue primarily to accused persons. It argues that the right to equality before the law is one of the major embodiments of the freedom from discrimination advocated by the United Nations. The right to a fair trial and the equality of arms of parties to a legal dispute are fundamental to the operation of the rule of law.

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