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UK to allow cameras in criminal courts

UK Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke [Guardian profile] announced Tuesday that cameras will be allowed into criminal courts in the UK and Wales to improve transparency in courts. Two acts of Parliament [official website] in place since 1925 have banned filming [BBC report] in both Welsh and English courts. Clarke believes that this change will help to improve public confidence [Guardian report] in the criminal justice system. Filming will only cover the summary remarks made by judges and not victims, witnesses or offenders. Although Scotland does not have a ban on cameras, all parties must agree to allow the case to be broadcast. Initially, cameras will be allowed in the court of appeals and eventually expanded to the crown court, in accordance with consultations with the judiciary.

In June, the Philippines Supreme Court [official website] said that it would allow the live broadcast [JURIST report] of the November 2009 Maguindanao Massacre [CSM backgrounder; JURIST news archive] trial subject to guidelines set by the court. In September 2010, US federal judges reached an agreement on a pilot project allowing certain civil trials to be televised [JURIST report]. Federal appellate judge David Sentelle [official profile] said that, while the details still needed to be worked out, the judges agreed that the faces of jurors and witnesses will not be recorded and that either party to the suit can opt out of the trial being televised.

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