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

14/11/2019

What future for victims’ rights?

On 6 November, FRA contributed to a High Level Experts’ Meeting, organised by the European Commission on ‘What future for victims’ rights?’
25/10/2019

Non-discrimination handbook also now in Finnish and Romanian

The 2018 edition of 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.
Justice lags legal obligations that are effective in practice
25/10/2019

Justice lags legal obligations that are effective in practice

Everyone wants a fair trial when it comes to judicial proceedings. But in practice shortcomings sometimes fail to deliver on the rights of victims and defendants. European Day of Justice is a time to reflect on challenges to ensure Europe offers fair justice for all.

Latest projects View all

Status: 
Ongoing

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

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.
Protecting migrant workers from exploitation in the EU: workers’ perspectives
June
2019

Protecting migrant workers from exploitation in the EU: workers’ perspectives

Report
This report is the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s fourth on the topic of severe labour exploitation. Based on interviews with 237 exploited workers, it paints a bleak picture of severe exploitation and abuse. The workers include both people who came to the EU, and EU nationals who moved to another EU country. They were active in diverse sectors, and their legal status also varied.
Fundamental Rights Report 2019
June
2019

Fundamental Rights Report 2019

Annual report
How much progress can we expect in a decade? Various rights-related instruments had been in place for 10 years in 2018, prompting both sobering and encouraging reflection on this question.