20 Mar 2023 by lbigmr

Strengthening the Rights of Suspects in Criminal Proceedings: New Factsheets Show Promising Practices

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights, together with their partners from Belgium, Ireland, Spain and Romania, publishes four factsheets and videos on promising practices that aim to contribute to the practical implementation of the EU procedural rights directives.

The EU funded projects “From law to practice: Strengthening procedural rights in police custody (ProRPC)” aims to contribute to an effective implementation of the EU procedural directives through the identification of promising practices in all partner countries. The project was carried out with partners from International Rights Spain (Spain), Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania – the Helsinki Committee (Rumania), Irish Council for Civil Liberties (Ireland) und Fair Trials Europe (Belgium). With desk research and several project consultations, such as national roundtables and regional consultation meetings with experts from various fields promising practices emerged. These findings are now incorporated in easy to access factsheets for all criminal justice actors and advocates who are interested in reforming their national system. The factsheets disseminate information on the reform processes occurred in selected EU countries and thereby aim to offer useful inspiration to strengthen procedural rights and overcome existing barriers. Additionally, Fair Trials created short videos with more information about specific practices and promising initiatives.

The four factsheets and corresponding videos of this series focus on:

  • “Right to Information” written by Nora Katona and Giuliana Monina (LBI-GMR) – Suspected persons may not effectively use their rights without adequate and accessible information. The factsheet describes promising practices from Austria, Belgium, the Netherland, and Ireland, covering IT tools to support police officers when they provide oral information to suspected and accused persons as well as initiatives that make the Letter of Rights more accessible.
  • “Access to a Lawyer” written by Livia Popa and Georgiana Gheorghe (APADOR-CH) – When a person finds themselves in police custody, they often do not know a lawyer and rely on the police to legal representation. The factsheet covers promising practices from Romania, Spain, and Belgium, which include among others mandatory legal representation and effective appointment procedures randomly selecting the best qualified available lawyer depending on the person’s needs.
  • “Right to Legal Aid” written by Rights International Spain – Access to legal aid is central for people who cannot afford a lawyer to access justice and avoid further impoverishment and social exclusion. The factsheet covers promising practices from Spain, as well as Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Finland.
  • “Audio Visual Recordings of Police Interviews” written by Sarah O’Malley and Elizabeth Carthy (ICCL) – Audio-visual recordings of police interviews not only ensure the protection of those being interviewed, but also guard the police against false accusations of mistreatment or coercion. They also serve as evidence that confessions made during police custody were not made under pressure and contribute to transparency. This in turn improves public trust in the police. The factsheet covers the audio visual recording system applied in Ireland, showing how the reform came about and what are its remaining challenges today. It also makes reference to practices from Croatia and France.