The ICJ, together with JUSTICE and NJCM, today published two commentaries on the proposed directives on provisional legal aid and legal aid in European Arrest Warrant Proceedings and procedural rights for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings.
The proposed directives are part of a new package of legislation which would complement already adopted EU Directives on the right to interpretation, the right to information, and on the right of access to a lawyer, within the so-called “Stockholm programme” which aims to strengthen rights in criminal proceedings as well as to promote fair trials standards.
In the briefing papers published today, the ICJ, JUSTICE and NJCM welcome the many elements of the draft Directives that aim to strengthen protection of procedural rights.
However, there remain aspects in each of the proposals that require strengthening, in order to adequately protect rights guaranteed under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as international human rights law.
In particular, in the proposed Directive on children’s rights, the three organizations recommend that the principle of effective participation of children in criminal proceedings should be strengthened through the introduction of further safeguards, upholding the best interests of the child, as well as the importance of mandatory access to a lawyer.
In the proposed Directive on legal aid, the ICJ, JUSTICE and NJCM recommend that the scope of the right to legal aid should be widened, ensuring an individual’s effective access to legal aid.
They also recommend, as a minimum, that key guarantees that would make the right to legal aid effective, including standards for ensuring the quality of legal assistance, and wider criteria for granting legal aid should be adopted in the Directive. For the moment, these standards are instead elaborated in the accompanying, but non-binding, Recommendation on legal aid.
These directives will be agreed through the co-decision procedure, in which the European Council and the European Parliament jointly adopt legislation proposed by the Commission.
EU-ICJJUSTICENJCM Briefing Legal Aid Directive-Advocacy-analysis briefs-2014 (full text in PDF)