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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Status: 
Findings available

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

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.
Status: 
Findings available

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.
Status: 
Findings available

Handbook on access to justice in Europe

In partnership with 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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November
2016

Criminal detention and alternatives: fundamental rights aspects in EU cross-border transfers

Report
EU Member States have largely implemented, and started applying, three instruments on transferring prison sentences, probation measures and alternative sanctions, as well as pre-trial supervision measures, to other Member States. This report provides an overview of their first experiences with these measures, highlighting both best practices and shortcomings.
November
2016

Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information

Report
Protecting the human rights of individuals subject to criminal proceedings is an essential element of the rule of law. Persons who are suspected or accused of crimes in countries other than their own are particularly vulnerable, making appropriate procedural safeguards especially crucial. This report reviews Member States’ legal frameworks, policies and practices regarding the important rights provided in these directives, including with respect to individuals whose needs may require additional attention, such as persons with disabilities and children.
June
2016

Handbook on European law relating to access to justice

Handbook
Access to justice is an important element of the rule of law. It enables individuals to protect themselves against infringements of their rights, to remedy civil wrongs, to hold executive power accountable and to defend themselves in criminal proceedings. This handbook summarises the key European legal principles in the area of access to justice, focusing on civil and criminal law.