Procedural Safeguards - Measure E

This project aims at enhancing the rights of children in criminal proceedings in the EU, by supporting Member States and advocating for the proper application of the EU Directive 2013/48 which guarantees free access to a specialised (youth) lawyer at all stages (EU directive 2016/800 art.4/1v,v and art.23-nr.63 Memorandum and EU Directive 2012/29, child victims, art.25 on procedural safeguards) for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings and other related standards in the specific field of juvenile justice; by defining the role, the mission, the basic training and all the specifics of the function of a youth lawyer and by empowering youth lawyers to become “agents of change” in the better implementation of the right of access to a lawyer for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings.
The ECBA is an associate partner in this project.

Click here for the report of the 'kick-off' meeting,  which took place on 19 and 20 October 2016 in Brussels.

The Directive has been adopted and published on 21 May 2016.

It sets out specific minimum rules concerning the rights of suspected or accused children in criminal proceedings to ensure that they are able to understand and follow criminal proceedings, including having access to a lawyer at all stages. It provides that children cannot waive their right to be assisted by a lawyer in key moments of the proceedings, as there is a high risk that they would not understand the consequence of their actions (Article 6).

ECBA reply on the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, 6 May 2014

Please click here for our response to the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, which is the result of intensive and careful consideration of the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) working group on Measure E, composed of 14 practitioners in criminal law from 10 countries all over Europe.

Click here for a new ECBA Statement which contains the ECBA’s main recommendations to the Commission on Measure E of the Stockholm programme for the appropriate rights and treatment of vulnerable Suspects.

It was sent to Mrs Reding, Vice-president and Commissioner responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship and to Oliver Tell, Director Unit B.1, Directorate General Justice on 15 May 2013.

In the work on the Stockholm Programme and EU ROADMAP for Procedural Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings we will soon come to - Measure E – Special Safeguards for Suspected or Accused persons who are Vulnerable.

In order to meet the work for EU on this subject ECBA has formed a working group: Measure E – Vulnerable Suspects.

The idea is to draft the ECBA Cornerstones of special safeguards for suspected or accused persons who are vulnerable. This would support the political EU decision-makers at EC, EP and the Council of MS to come to appropriate conclusions on how to protect vulnerable suspects in addition to the general rights and safeguards in criminal proceeding.

This ECBA group is chaired jointly by Robin Grey Q.C., UK,  and Bertil Dahl, Sweden, and  consists of 11 practitioners. The group has had its first meeting in London on the 16th of March and plan to present a draft statement to the ECBA Board in the meeting in Istanbul on the 26/27 April 2013.

The definition of Vulnerable Suspects or Accused Persons is central in this work and should be looked upon together with the other measures  A-D and F in order to be included in the Stockholm Programme Safeguards.

Vulnerable persons could be;

  • Children under 18;
  • Drunk people;
  • People under influence of drugs or other addictives;
  • People suffering from mental or physical disabilities;
  • People with mental disorder – in this group we can for example find suspects who are serial confessers of serious crimes who sometimes mislead the legal system.

The work on strengthening the weaker part, such as vulnerable suspects, is in the interest of the legal system itself. It is quite clear that modern criminal proceedings should be based on Equality of Arms. Thus in order to help the weaker part several steps have to be taken.

A modern balanced procedure in criminal matters demand equality of arms in the examination of evidence, etc. To get a fair trial it is obvious that the suspect must be helped, so as not to be at a procedural disadvantage with the prosecutor.