Defending the
Human Right
to a
Fair Trial

EU Defence Rights

Fair Trials Launch Roadmap Practitioner Toolkits

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Justice in Europe: Interactive Defence Rights Map

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The Road Ahead: Fair Trials and LEAP publish major report on EU Defence Rights

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What is the problem?

Europe is one of the wealthiest regions of the world; it is the home of the European Court of Human Rights, and respect for human rights is a founding principle of the European Union. Despite this, fair trial abuses are a daily reality in courts, police stations and prisons across Europe. People are being detained for months or years before trial, denied information on their rights, and are not being given legal aid to pay for an effective lawyer or interpreter.

What do we want?

We believe Europe should be a beacon of respect for fair trial rights across the globe, with countries working together to ensure that every person accused of a crime is given a fair trial. This will protect the eight million people accused of crimes each year in the EU against the devastating human consequences of wrongful conviction. It will also make Europe stronger, increasing trust in its justice systems and providing a sound basis for European cooperation to tackle cross-border crime.

What are we doing?

Working with our network of legal experts from across Europe (the Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP)), we have led calls for action by the European Union to improve standards of criminal justice.

Our work for justice in Europe has been wide-ranging, including:

  • Working with our partners and networks to understand the barriers to fair trials across Europe and to design solutions;
  • Using the human stories of injustice from our casework to demonstrate the need for reforms;
  • Producing detailed reports and policy briefings and hosting events for EU policy-makers;
  • Working for the proper implementation of EU law, through strategic litigation and training; and
  • Helping people to understand their rights and access local expertise by producing Notes of Advice on criminal justice systems in Europe.


Fair Trials is now a recognised expert and leading voice for justice in Europe and our work is paying off:

  • We have helped to secure ground-breaking and enforceable new laws which guarantee crucial defence rights to all suspects and defendants across the whole of the EU;
  • We have ensured that continued work for fair trials in Europe has remained on the agenda;
  • We have built a network of fair trials defenders in Europe, and have provided training to practitioners from across the EU;
  • We have helped countless people accused of crimes in Europe to access information on their rights and local sources of support and have prevented serious cases of injustice.

We are now closer than ever before to achieving justice in Europe – but much more remains to be done. You can help us to reach this goal: get involved and support our work.