This article examines the purpose behind the provision of special measures—adaptations to courtroom formalities—to vulnerable or intimidated people giving evidence in criminal trials. It shows that fostering the principle of humane treatment and improving evidence quality were the initial motivations underpinning the introduction of special measures. The focus in this article is on the principle of humane treatment, and whether the current provision of special measures successfully fosters it. The article conceptualises the principle of humane treatment so that it can be used as the normative measure against which to evaluate the current provision of special measures to vulnerable witnesses and the accused. It concludes that the solely instrumental legal basis on which special measures are currently available risks insufficiently protecting vulnerable or intimidated participants from the harm and distress that the criminal trial often causes, and that this can amount to inhumane treatment.