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.

 

Latest news View all

Criminal detention: Are rights respected?
11/12/2019

Criminal detention: Are rights respected?

Overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and limited time outside cells in prisons violate detainees’ rights and jeopardise rehabilitation, finds a new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report. The findings and supporting database will help judges and lawyers assess shortcomings in prison conditions when deciding on cross-border cases.
05/12/2019

Spanish and Italian non-discrimination handbook just published

The handbook on European non-discrimination law examines law stemming from the complementary systems of the EU non-discrimination directives and the European Convention on Human Rights, drawing on them interchangeably to the extent that they overlap, while highlighting differences where these exist.

Latest projects View all

Status: 
Findings available

Business and human rights: access to remedy improvements

This project looks at obstacles and promising practices in relation to access to remedies for victims of business-related human rights abuses. By analysing complaints mechanisms in EU Member States, this research maps what hinders and what facilitates access to remedies.

Latest publications View all

Criminal detention conditions in the European Union: rules and reality
December
2019

Criminal detention conditions in the European Union: rules and reality

Report
This report looks at five core aspects of detention conditions in EU Member States: the size of cells; the amount of time detainees can spend outside of these cells, including outdoors; sanitary conditions; access to healthcare; and whether detainees are protected from violence. For each of these aspects of detention conditions, the report first summarises the minimum standards at international and European levels. It then looks at how these standards are translated into national laws and other rules of the EU Member States.
Business-related human rights abuse reported in the EU and available remedies
December
2019

Business-related human rights abuse reported in the EU and available remedies

Paper
Growing global efforts to encourage responsible business conduct that respects human rights include steps to ensure access to effective remedies when breaches occur. In 2017, the European Commission asked the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to collect evidence on such access in the EU Member States, with the ultimate goal of identifying the EU actions most needed in this field. FRA’s resulting research involved two phases: desk research on different incidents of abuse; and interview-based fieldwork on professionals’ views on the availability and effectiveness of different complaint avenues.
Rights in practice: access to a lawyer and procedural rights in criminal and European arrest warrant proceedings
September
2019

Rights in practice: access to a lawyer and procedural rights in criminal and European arrest warrant proceedings

Report
Protecting the rights of anyone suspected or accused of a crime is an essential element of the rule of law. Courts, prosecutors and police officers need certain powers to enforce the law – but trust in the outcomes of their efforts will quickly erode without effective safeguards. Such safeguards take on various forms, and include the right to certain information and to a lawyer.