On November 11 the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament held a public hearing on the Roadmap on Procedural Rights of Suspects and Accused Persons: Achievements and the Way Forward.

Произвольное и чрезмерное использование содержания под стражей до суда (предварительного заключения) во всем мире является масштабной формой нарушений прав человека, ежегодно затрагивающей более 14 миллионов человек. Твердо установлено право считаться невиновным до тех пор, пока не будет доказана вина.

Eighteen months ago, the countries of the world agreed at the United Nations that legal aid is “an essential element of a fair, humane and efficient criminal justice system”. They declared it “a foundation for the enjoyment of other rights, including the right to a fair trial,” as well as “an important safeguard that ensures fundamental fairness and public trust in the criminal justice process.”

It’s the biggest change in criminal justice procedure in 30 years – and you probably haven’t heard about it. From now on suspects detained at a Garda station are entitled to have solicitors present during their periods of questioning.

The European Commission issued a proposal that would strengthen safeguards of children in the criminal justice systems. Among key proposals are a mandatory assistance by a lawyer and pre-trial detention separate from adults if a child must remain detained.

The Soros Foundation-Moldova is seeking an international expert to lead an assessment on the functionality of the current eligibility criteria and standards for legal aid in Moldova. The consultancy should be delivered during the period September – October 2014, for a maximum of 10 working days, including one visit to Moldova of up to 3 working days. Deadline: 30 July 2014, 6 pm EET.

The Johannesburg Declaration on the importance of advancing implementation of the UN Principals and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems (that were adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2012) was endorsed at the global conference on legal aid held in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 26, 2014. The Declaration also contains an action plan that should be supported and enforced by respective criminal justice actors.

The Model Code of Conduct for Legal Aid Lawyers in Criminal Cases was drafted by members of the Legal Aid Reformers Network through a number of meetings in Chisinau, Kiev and Tbilisi in 2013, which were convened by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The handbook is intended as a practical guide to developing and implementing policies and programmes to ensure early access to legal aid, including by implementing the international standards set by the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems.

In a leading judgment issued today (6 March 2014), the Supreme Court has sent the Government a clear message about the need to reform our laws to give greater protection to people questioned by An Garda Síochána.