Access to a lawyer

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What a person suspected of a crime says or doesn’t say in police custody can have a significant impact on an investigation and the likelihood of pre-trial detention. It is crucial that a lawyer is present before the first police interview, but this is often not the case.

Ensuring access to a lawyer is also not a box-ticking exercise. It is not just about having person present in the room: the lawyer must play an active role in guaranteeing the person’s rights.

Every person that is arrested is inherently vulnerable. They are in a situation of police control, where a state official has authority over them. A lawyer must be there to advise them. Lawyers can also be important safeguards against ill-treatment and coercion in police custody.

This video was developed as part of the EU project ´From law to practice: Strengthening procedural rights in police custody (ProRPC)’ led by the LBI-GMR, in cooperation with APADOR-CH, Fair Trials, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and Rights International Spain. You can read a factsheet on this topic by APADOR-CH here.