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Pre-trial detention: lawyers explain the barriers to legal assistance in Europe

admin - March 27, 2019 - Pre-trial detention, access to a lawyer, Access to Justice, EU Directives on procedural rights

 

In a new Fair Trials’ short film, criminal defence lawyers from across Europe explain some of the problems around doing their job when their clients are in pre-trial detention. Across the continent, there are over 120,000 people being held in pre-trial detention even though it should be used only as a measure of last resort.

The problem often starts with access to the clients: sometimes the lawyers are not allowed to see their client and it is difficult to get the information on where the client is being held in the police custody. In cases where the client and the lawyer do not speak a common language, the lack of interpretation and translation makes the communication with the client very difficult. There are also issues with the access to the case-file as it is often possible to have the case-file only minutes before the first hearing. For now, in the absence of legislation, it is up to lawyers to fight for their clients and give the best assistance they can.

The film was produced as part of “Effective Legal Assistance in Pre-Trial Detention Decision-Making”, an EU-wide project which aims at improving the quality of pre-trial detention decision-making by addressing existing legal, procedural and cultural barriers to the effective involvement of lawyers. The project demonstrates the relevance of the EU laws on access to a lawyer in tackling the unjustified and excessive use of pre-trial detention. The project is led by Fair Trials, with partners in five countries: Hungary (Hungarian Helsinki Committee), Italy (Antigone), Bulgaria (Bulgarian Helsinki Committee), Greece (Centre for European Constitutional Law), and Romania (APADOR-CH).

 

This project is funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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