New EU reports emphasise importance of trust in cross-border justice

Michael O'Flaherty, FRA director
Michael O’Flaherty, FRA director

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has said EU rules essential to build trust in the EU’s area of justice are seldom invoked, potentially hindering the fair treatment of people involved in criminal proceedings.

Two new FRA reports offer detailed guidance for the EU and its member states to boost the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

Michael O’Flaherty, FRA director, said: “Protecting the rights of people involved in criminal proceedings is a hallmark of fair justice systems. When it comes to justice across borders, we need to boost trust between national judiciaries. This is the only way we can ensure that people will be fairly treated.”

The reports examine EU laws and how their use in varying national contexts affects individuals during criminal proceedings and sanctioning, before and after trial.

They also show how rights protection can enhance trust between member states in cross-border cases and how these laws can significantly improve the enjoyment of fundamental rights in the EU.

Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information examines the right to information and translation and the right to interpretation of suspects and the accused. These rights ensure effective participation in criminal proceedings and overall fairness during trial, regardless of where in the EU the proceedings take place.

Criminal detention and alternatives: fundamental rights aspects in EU cross-border transfers examines issues of criminal detention and alternatives in cross-border transfers. Such mutual recognition between member states depends on trust, which in turn hinges on fundamental rights. For instance, detention should be used as a last resort and alternatives used more, in line with human rights standards. As well as helping the reintegration process, alternatives are often cheaper.

Both reports note that criminal proceedings should also consider the specific needs of people with disabilities or children, in accordance with European and international human rights standards. This includes accessible information about individual rights, and ensuring people are transferred to places with adequate detention conditions.