Access to justice

Access to justice is a core fundamental right and a central concept in the broader field of justice. However, it is a right that faces a number of challenges throughout the EU.

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.

Victims’ rights and support

Explore the mapping of victims’ rights and support in the EU online >> 

Maps and tables allow users to view some of the key aspects related to support services for victims of crime.


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Online help at hand for your fundamental rights issues

On 6 October, FRA will launch a pilot version of Clarity, an interactive online tool to help people with their fundamental rights problems. Clarity, which stands for the ‘Complaints, Legal Assistance and Rights Information Tool for You’, allows users to easily access information on non-judicial bodies dealing with their particular fundamental rights issue(s) in a given EU Member State.

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The right to interpretation and translation and the right to information in criminal proceedings in the EU (INFOCRIM)

What happens when a person suspected or accused of a crime faces criminal proceedings in a language they do not understand? How are suspects or persons accused of a criminal offence informed about their rights in criminal proceedings? This project looks into issues surrounding the right to interpretation and translation and the right to information in criminal proceedings in the EU.

Rehabilitation and mutual recognition – practice concerning EU law on transfer of persons sentenced or awaiting trial (Prison and Detention)

A person who is suspected or accused of a crime or who has already been sentenced can be transferred between Member States under EU law. What are the fundamental rights concerns in this context? This project looks into issues surrounding alternatives to detention and imprisonment – pre- and post-trial, as well as on the transfer of prisoners, as covered by three EU Framework Decisions in the area of criminal justice.

Handbook on access to justice in Europe

In partnership with the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) and the European Court of Human Rights, FRA will produce a handbook which will highlight and summarise the key European legal and jurisprudential principles in the area of access to justice.

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Severe labour exploitation: workers moving within or into the European Union

Worker exploitation is not an isolated or marginal phenomenon. But despite its pervasiveness in everyday life, severe labour exploitation and its adverse effects on third-country nationals and EU citizens – as workers, but also as consumers – have to date not received much attention from researchers.

Victims of crime in the EU: the extent and nature of support for victims

The rights of victims of crime to access justice and to be protected against repeat victimisation may remain illusory in practice if the victim fails to receive professional advice and support. This research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines support service provision for such victims across the 28 EU Member States, in line with the 2012 EU Victims’ Directive. It focuses not on abstract fundamental rights standards but on the final practical results.