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While access to justice typically means having a case heard in a court of law, it can more broadly be achieved or supported through mechanisms such as national human rights institutions, equality bodies and ombudsman institutions, as well as the European Ombudsman at EU level. Yet, FRA research shows that access to justice is problematic in a number of EU Member States. This is due to several factors, including a lack of rights awareness and poor knowledge about the tools that are available to access justice (see EU-MIDIS, in particular Data in Focus report 3: Rights Awareness).
Drawing on its research findings, the Agency seeks to provide evidence-based advice to policy makers at EU and national level in order to improve awareness of and access to justice. This includes the provision of information about how to remove existing obstacles that hinder people’s ability to access justice, including groups such as children and migrants.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, including legal aid to those who lack sufficient resources. At the same time, access to justice is also an enabling right that allows those who perceive their rights as having been violated to enforce them and seek redress.
Access to justice is a cross-cutting issue for a number of thematic areas of the FRA’s work. For example, the FRA 2009 European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) showed that awareness of redress mechanisms (for discrimination) is very low, in particular among vulnerable groups such as minorities and immigrants.
Key among activities which cut across the various thematic areas – and with a close link to accessing justice – is the FRA’s work on human rights education and training. Tailored for and jointly developed with specific target audiences, education and training models support the implementation of fundamental rights and promotion of good practices. Through the development of material, implementation of training and contribution to existing training and curricula, the FRA contributes to supporting the training capacities of key stakeholders such as the European Commission; EU institutions, including agencies such as Frontex; NGOs and national institutions with a human rights remit.
- The Stockholm Programme: A chance to put fundamental rights protection right in the centre of the European Agenda
- The UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems
The first international instrument exclusively dedicated to legal aid: The United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems; was adopted at the twenty first session of United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice from 23-27 April 2012. More >>
- United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training
On 19 December 2011, the General Assembly adopted, without a vote, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training by resolution 66/137. This step marks the final adoption of this new instrument by the United Nations.
- Principles relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions (Paris Principles).