n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Face-coverings, demeanour evidence and the right to a fair trial : lessons from the USA and Canada

Volume 46, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The demeanour of a witness is generally considered an important factor in assessing the credibility of that witness. Some empirical studies have, however, questioned the value of demeanour evidence. This article considers the value of demeanour evidence in view of the accused's right to a fair trial. It is restricted to situations where a witness's identity is already known, but the witness wishes to testify with some form of face-covering. It is submitted that the accused's right to adduce and challenge evidence will ensure the court's and the accused's access to all possible forms of demeanour evidence. Only in exceptional circumstances will the public interest allow this principle to be limited if the reliability of the evidence can otherwise be ensured.

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