Designing criminal law
The EU works to ensure that the basic rights of suspects and accused persons are protected. Common minimum standards are necessary for judicial decisions taken by 1 EU country to be recognised by the others.
To turn this area of justice based on mutual recognition and mutual trust into reality, the European Commission is continuously working on strengthening citizens’ rights in criminal proceedings.
When designing and implementing criminal law, it is important for the EU to strike the right balance between on one hand, measures that protect the rights of suspects and accused and on the other, facilitating investigation and prosecution of crime.
Protecting the rights of suspects and accused
Much progress has been made to date, as the EU has adopted 6 directives on procedural rights for suspects and accused persons as set out in the roadmap of 2009. The EU established rules on
- the right to information which applies across the EU since 2 June 2014,
- the right to interpretation and translation which applies across the EU since 27 October 2015,
- Right to have a lawyer, which applies across the EU since 27 November 2016,
- the right to be presumed innocent and to be present at trial,
- special safeguards for children suspected and accused in criminal proceedings
- the right to legal aid
With a communication and 2 recommendations on safeguards for vulnerable persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, published in 2013, the Commission took further action to protect people in criminal proceedings who are particularly vulnerable.
Articles 47-49 of the the EU Charter of fundamental rights protect the following rights
- right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
- presumption of innocence and right of defence
- principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties
What to do if your rights have been breached
The authorities of EU countries are bound to comply with the Charter of fundamental rights only when implementing EU law.
Fundamental rights are protected by your country's constitution. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you must address your complaint to the relevant national authority.