EC proposal to guarantee citizens’ rights to access a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest
A European Commission proposal to guarantee the rights of all citizens to be advised by a lawyer when facing criminal proceedings moved a step closer to agreement yesterday, after a breakthrough in negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
The draft law would mean all suspects, no matter where they are in the European Union, would be guaranteed the right to be advised by a lawyer from the earliest stages of proceedings until their conclusion.
Where a suspect is arrested the new rules would ensure that the person has the opportunity to communicate with their family. If they are outside of their country, they would have the right to be in contact with their country’s consulate.
The breakthrough came in a trilogue meeting between the Commission and the EU’s two co-legislators (the European Parliament and the Council). It is the third in a series of Directives to guarantee fair trial rights for citizens, wherever they are in Europe.
The Directive is one of the key actions to improve citizens’ lives in the Commission’s 2010 EU Citizenship Report.
The text will now pass back to the co-legislators (Parliament and Council) for formal adoption in the coming months. Discussions are scheduled at the meeting of EU Justice Ministers (Justice Council) on 6 June.