Last in set of six EU directives on rights during criminal proceedings enters force

The last in a set of six EU directives providing guarantees during criminal proceedings across all member states has come into force.

The directive on special safeguards for children started to apply yesterday, just over a month after the directive guaranteeing access to legal aid started to apply.

The last directive provides that children should be assisted by a lawyer and detained separately from adults if sent to prison. Privacy must be respected and questioning should be audio-visually recorded or recorded in another appropriate manner.

Frans Timmermans, first-vice president in charge of the rule of law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, said: “Every year, nine million people are involved in criminal proceedings in Europe.

“A well-functioning rule of law must ensure that every European can depend on getting a fair and equal treatment before the law. We need to continue to defend and nourish our rule of law so as to foster unwavering faith in our justice systems and their ability to protect all our citizens and our societies.”

Věra Jourová, commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, added: “Children deserve special protection in criminal proceedings. With the new rules, we ensure that their privacy is respected or they are detained separately from adults. In addition, everyone in the EU can now be sure to have access to legal aid if they need it. While justice must be done, we must also ensure it is being done in full respect of our fundamental rights and values.”

The six directives cover special safeguards for children; the right to legal aid; the right to be presumed innocent and to be present at trial; the right to have a lawyer; the right to information; and the right to interpretation and translation.

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