Blog

A platform for representatives of the Network to publish articles on Procedural and Defence Rights, and Victim's Rights. This forum will invite guest bloggers to submit articles on the aforementioned topics, and for the general public to read and comment on these issues.

The Gateway Right: Strengthening the right to legal assistance in the EU

Date:
March 22 2016

As anyone who has been arrested and faced a police interrogation will confirm, the early stages of criminal proceedings are an intimidating and disorientating experience. These first few hours and days are characterised by an imbalance of power between the police and prosecutors who have information and resources on their side, and the defendant, too often left without adequate information, with limited resources particularly if detained and frequently without sufficient knowledge and understanding of her rights and how to access them.

Against this backdrop, it is not difficult to see why the ability of a defendant to meet with and be represented by a lawyer who can redress that imbalance is so crucial. Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR) views access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings…
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Does Ireland need to do more to protect the rights of persons detained in Garda (police) custody?

Date:
March 03 2016

In May 2014 the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) advised An Garda Síochana (the Irish police) to allow a solicitor attend the Garda (police) interview of a person detained (the detainee) for questioning on suspicion of having committed a serious criminal offence. It had previously been the practice of the Gardaí to decline any request by a solicitor to attend during interview of their client.

This decision took many solicitors and the Gardaí by surprise. It was presumed, although not confirmed, that the decision was taken as a result of the Supreme Court judgment in The People (DPP) v Gormley & White. In this case the Supreme Court ruled that evidence taken from two separate detainees after they had sought legal advice but prior to receiving that advice should, in circumstances…
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Is it sensible to harmonise standards on the presumption of innocence at the EU level?

Date:
August 08 2014

The proposed directive is to establish minimum safeguards for the right of suspects and accused persons to be treated innocent until proven guilty of committing an offence by a final judgment. The draft of the directive lists a number of safeguards, including the right not to incriminate oneself, the right not to cooperate and the right to refuse testimony (“the right to remain silent”). The document also lays down a principle which places the burden of proof on the prosecution and the rule according to which any reasonable doubt should benefit the accused. Moreover, the directive provides that the principle of the presumption of innocence should equally apply to courts and other public authorities. It obliges the State to ensure that public authorities refrain from presenting, in their official statements…
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Access to files in pretrial detention proceedings awaiting a breakthrough date: A Polish Perspective

Date:
June 03 2014
Authors:
Adam Bodnar
Piotr Kubaszewski
Network Partner:
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

2 June 2014 is the final date of the transposition period set for the Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings (the “Directive”). The Directive aims to create minimum safeguards for protection of the rights of suspects or accused persons to information about their rights and charges filed against them. The date of 2 June 2014 is not only of technical significance. After that day, the legitimacy of further pre-trial detention may be challenged in a number of cases, on account of the obligation to provide defence lawyers with access to case files of pre-trial proceedings.

Under article 7 of the Directive, where a person is arrested or detained, the same person or their lawyer should be granted access to…
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