Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

New European action to spell out your rights

May 8, 2012 2:31 PM
Originally published by Catherine Bearder MEP

A decision to roll out a 'Letter of Rights' for anyone arrested in the European Union has been welcomed by Catherine Bearder MEP.

Catherine Giving SpeechEU Justice ministers have adopted the law following a European Commission bid to ensure defendants' right to information during criminal proceedings.

It means anyone arrested in an EU country will be entitled to a letter explaining their rights in a language they understand.

Catherine said: "The aim of the Letter of Rights to help avoid miscarriages of justice and reduce the number of appeals.

"This new law means everyone will know clearly and promptly about their rights. It is a landmark which strengthens human rights, as well as the European justice system."

The new law will apply to around eight million criminal proceedings every year in all 27 EU member states.

Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, said: "The right to a fair trial is one of the central pillars of our justice system in Europe.

"This is a milestone in our common efforts to ensure Europeans have access to justice, wherever they are in the EU."

The Letter of Rights will contain practical details about the rights of persons arrested or detained, including the right…

- To remain silent

- To a lawyer

- To be informed of the charge

- To interpretation and translation in any language for those who do not understand the language of the proceedings

- To be brought promptly before a court following arrest

- To inform someone else about the arrest or detention