New rules and guarantees for children involved in criminal proceedings now apply across the EU

On 11 June 2019, the EU directive 2016/800, on special safeguards for children involved in criminal proceedings, as suspected or accused persons, started to apply. It is the last in a set of 6 EU directives guaranteeing procedural rights for people across the EU.

This package of EU rules ensures that EU citizens' fundamental rights of fair and equal treatment are respected in criminal proceedings and applied in a similar way in all Member States.

Thanks to these 6 EU directives, the following rights now apply in criminal proceedings:

  • Special safeguards for children - Children need special protection at all stages of the criminal proceedings. With the new rules, for example, children should be assisted by a lawyer and detained separately from adults if sent to prison. Their privacy must be respected and questioning should be audio-visually recorded or recorded in another appropriate manner.

           Learn more about this directive! The full text is available here.

  • The right to legal aid - If suspected or accused, people have the right to legal aid and the EU rules define clear criteria to grant it. Decisions concerning legal aid must be taken timely and diligently and people must be informed in writing if their application is rejected in full or in part.

           Learn more about this directive! The full text is available here.

  • The right to be presumed innocent and to be present at trial - The concept of presumption of innocence exists in all EU Member States, but the EU rules ensure that this right is applied equally across the EU. The rules clarify that the burden of proof for establishing guilt is on the prosecution, rather than on the person accused.

           Learn more about this directive! The full text is available here.

  • The right to have a lawyer - If suspected or accused, no matter where the person is in the EU, she/he has the right to be advised by a lawyer. A right of access to a lawyer applies also in European Arrest Warrant proceedings, both in the Member State that executes it and in the Member State where it has been issued.

           Learn more about this directive! The full text is available here.

  • The right to information - People must be promptly informed about the criminal act they are suspected or accused of. They also must be promptly informed of all their rights in criminal proceedings, either orally or in writing. They must also be given access to the materials of the case.

           Learn more about this directive! The full text is available here.

  • The right to interpretation and translation - Interpretation must be provided free of charge during any questioning, including by police, all court hearings and any necessary interim hearings, as well as during essential meetings with the lawyer.

           Learn more about this directive! The full text is available here.