Presumption of innocence: why only in criminal law?

In criminal law, European legal systems have the basic presumption of innocence. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) in its latest newsletter paid attention to the Presumption of Innocence Report that was published in March by the European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA):

Presumption of Innocence
In March 2021 the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) published a Presumption of Innocence Report. The CCBE was delighted to have a number of exchanges with the FRA during the preparation of the Report. On 31 March 2021, the European Commission adopted a Report on the implementation of the Presumption of Innocence Directive and the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings. The Commission believes that, overall, the Directive has provided EU added value by raising the level of protection of citizens involved in criminal proceedings, especially in some Member States where certain aspects of the presumption of innocence were not enshrined in national legislation. However, this report highlights that there are still difficulties relating to key provisions of the Directive in some Member States. This is particularly true as regards the scope of the national measures implementing the Directive, and the transposition of the Directive’s provisions on the prohibition of public references to guilt and on the right not to incriminate oneself. The Commission will, as a matter of priority, continue pursuing the infringement cases opened for lack of full transposition of the Directive. The CCBE will be having an exchange with the Commission in April in order to discuss the Commission findings.

Of course it is positive that CCBE promotes transposition of the European Directive that raises the level of protection of citizens involved in criminal proceedings.

Draconian sanctions in administrative law
I keep wondering why these fundamental rights do not apply to sanctions in administrative law that can be draconian. Take, for example, the heavy penalties in the legislation against money laundering, which can be imposed on persons and companies that do not know the rules or reasonably can not understand what is expected of them.
The presumption of innocence plays no role here; the starting point is that every citizen should know the law (and that is not always easy).

Over Ellen Timmer

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