Justice

Justice, victims’ rights and judicial cooperation

Your access to justice is a fundamental right. It is central to making your other rights a reality.

It protects rights of the individual. It puts right civil wrongs. It holds power to account. We shine a light on obstacles to access to justice. And we give evidence-based advice on overcoming them.

Highlights

  • Handbook / Guide / Manual
    22
    June
    2016
    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.
  • Page
    The Criminal Detention Database 2015-2019 combines in one place information on detention conditions in all 28 EU Member States.
  • Report / Paper / Summary
    25
    June
    2019
    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.
  • Video
    What are the next steps in the digitalisation of justice and of access to justice? This impulse video statement by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty was recorded for the online conference “Access to Justice in the Digital Age”. The conference takes place on 16 July and is organised by the German Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection during the German Council Presidency.
Products
18
November
2021
This report examines the EU’s main criminal law instrument in the
field of counter-terrorism, Directive (EU) 2017/541. Specifically, it
considers how the directive engages issues of fundamental rights,
affecting individuals, groups and society as a whole.
10
June
2021
The year 2020 brought both progress and setbacks
in terms of fundamental rights protection. FRA’s
Fundamental Rights Report 2021 reviews major
developments in the field, identifying both
achievements and remaining areas of concern. This
publication presents FRA’s opinions on the main
developments in the thematic areas covered, and
a synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions.
10
June
2021
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2021 reviews major developments in the field in 2020, identifying both achievements and areas of concern. It also presents FRA’s opinions on these developments, including a synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions. This year’s focus chapter explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fundamental rights. The remaining chapters cover: the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; equality and non-discrimination; racism, xenophobia and related intolerance; Roma equality and inclusion; asylum, borders and migration; information society, privacy and data protection; rights of the child; access to justice; and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
10
June
2021
This focus looks at COVID-19’s impact on fundamental
rights. It underscores that a human rights-based
approach to tackling the pandemic requires balanced
measures that are based on law, necessary, temporary
and proportional. It also requires addressing the
pandemic’s socio-economic impact, protecting the
vulnerable and fighting racism.
31
March
2021
This report looks at the practical implementation of the presumption
of innocence in criminal proceedings, and related rights, in 9 EU
Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Italy,
Lithuania, Poland and Portugal). Article 48 of the EU Charter of
Fundamental Rights guarantees the presumption of innocence – but,
as FRA’s research underscores, it can be undermined in many ways.
2021
24 language versions now available
23 November 2021
This summary presents the main insights from
FRA’s second main report based on its Fundamental
Rights Survey. The survey collected data from
around 35,000 people about their experiences,
perceptions and opinions on a range of issues that
are variously encompassed by human rights.
Crime can touch any of us – as witnesses or as victims. But no matter who you are, we all have rights when it comes to justice. These three short clips show some aspects of working together for justice, rights of victims of crime and rights of witnesses of crime.
We don’t all experience crime in the same way, and we might deal with it differently. But it’s vital – as victims or witnesses – that our rights are guaranteed, because access to justice is our fundamental right. Watch FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty speaking on the Fundamental Rights Survey report on crime, safety and victims’ rights.
Crime can touch any of us – as witnesses or as victims. But no matter who you are, we all have rights when it comes to justice. It is for this reason that the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights asked 35,000 people across Europe about their experiences of crime in its Fundamental Rights Survey, and the results are in.
19
February
2021
This is the second main report from FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey, which collected data from 35,000 people on a range of issues. This report focuses on respondents’ experiences as victims of selected types of crime, including violence, harassment, and property crime. The report also examines how often these crimes are reported to the police, and presents further details relating to harassment and violence, such as the perpetrators and where the incidents took place.
6
October
2020
Business activity affects not just customers, employees, and
contractors along supply chains, but often entire communities and
the environment. This makes it vital that every business complies
with human rights.
This comparative report looks at the realities victims face when they
seek redress for business-related human rights abuses. It presents
the findings of fieldwork research on the views of professionals
regarding the different ways people can pursue complaints. The
findings highlight that obstacles to achieving justice are often multilayered.
29
July
2020
As we enter the second half of 2020, the constraints on our daily lives
brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic have become a firm reality.
New local lockdowns and the reintroduction of restrictive measures
prompted by fresh outbreaks of the virus are a stark reminder that
COVID-19 continues to shape our lives – and our enjoyment of fundamental
rights – in profound ways. There is compelling evidence of how the
pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges in our societies. This FRA
Bulletin outlines some of the measures EU Member States adopted to
safely reopen their societies and economies while continuing to mitigate
the spread of COVID-19. It highlights the impact these measures may have
on civil, political and socioeconomic rights.
This video was produced for the launch of the Fundamental Rights Survey in June 2020 and gives an overview of the main results.
22
July
2020
This paper presents people’s concerns and experiences relating to security. It covers worry about crime, including terrorism and online fraud; experience of online fraud; experience of cyberharassment; and concern about illegal access to data.
What are the next steps in the digitalisation of justice and of access to justice? This impulse video statement by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty was recorded for the online conference “Access to Justice in the Digital Age”. The conference takes place on 16 July and is organised by the German Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection during the German Council Presidency.

Forced return monitoring systems – State of play in EU Member States

The EU Return Directive introduced an important fundamental rights safeguard for third-country nationals ordered to leave the EU because they do not or no longer fulfil the conditions for entry and/or stay. According to the Directive, Member States must provide for an effective forced-return monitoring system.
11
June
2020
Now available in Macedonian and Serbian
13 November 2020
The year 2019 brought both progress and
setbacks in terms of fundamental rights protection.
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2020 reviews
major developments in the field, identifying both
achievements and remaining areas of concern.
This publication presents FRA’s opinions on the main
developments in the thematic areas covered, and a
synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions.
In so doing, it provides a compact but informative
overview of the main fundamental rights challenges
confronting the EU and its Member States.
11
June
2020
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2020 reviews major developments in the field in 2019, identifying both achievements and areas of concern. It also presents FRA’s opinions on these developments, including a synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions. This year’s focus chapter explores how to unlock the full potential of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
28
May
2020
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to interrupt everyday life in the EU
in unprecedented ways. But the way it affects our societies is shifting. As
governments gradually lift some of the measures put in place to contain the
spread of COVID-19, new fundamental rights concerns arise: how to ensure that
the rights to life and health are upheld as daily life transitions to a ‘new normal’.
This Bulletin looks at declarations of states of emergency, or equivalent, and
how they came under scrutiny. It considers the impact on fundamental rights in
important areas of daily life, and includes a thematic focus on the processing of
users’ data to help contain COVID-19, particularly by contact-tracing apps. It covers the period 21 March – 30 April 2020.
Crime can touch any of us – as witnesses or as victims. But no matter who you are, we all have rights when it comes to justice. These three short clips show some aspects of working together for justice, rights of victims of crime and rights of witnesses of crime.
We don’t all experience crime in the same way, and we might deal with it differently. But it’s vital – as victims or witnesses – that our rights are guaranteed, because access to justice is our fundamental right. Watch FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty speaking on the Fundamental Rights Survey report on crime, safety and victims’ rights.
Crime can touch any of us – as witnesses or as victims. But no matter who you are, we all have rights when it comes to justice. It is for this reason that the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights asked 35,000 people across Europe about their experiences of crime in its Fundamental Rights Survey, and the results are in.
This video was produced for the launch of the Fundamental Rights Survey in June 2020 and gives an overview of the main results.
What are the next steps in the digitalisation of justice and of access to justice? This impulse video statement by FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty was recorded for the online conference “Access to Justice in the Digital Age”. The conference takes place on 16 July and is organised by the German Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection during the German Council Presidency.
Check out the EU's modern human rights catalogue and its chapter about Justice.
In the latest edition of his video blog, FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty speaks about the human rights challenges, but also the opportunities, that come along with the development of artificial intelligence technology.
This handbook provides an overview of key aspects of access to justice in Europe.
Opening Video for FRA event - From wrongs to rights: ending severe labour exploitation.
Fundamental Rights Report 2019: In some Member States access to justice faces challenges. Judicial independence continues to cause
concerns. Victims’ procedural rights need more effective implementation. Gaps in preventing
violence against women and domestic violence remain.
The Agency’s Director, Michael O’Flaherty, took part in a meeting of the European Parliament Employment Committee on 8 November.
This infographic looks at ways to improve the implementation of various EU criminal justice laws on the right to information, interpretation and translation that apply to Member States to guarantee common EU-wide minimum standards for rights protection.
This infographic looks at improving the implementation of the various EU criminal justice laws that apply to cross-border transfers, pre- and post- trial.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Court of Human Rights launched a practical handbook on European law relating to access to justice at the Fundamental Rights Forum on 22 June 2016.
Children should always be supported by a professional support person when they are involved in judicial proceedings, such as being at court. This could be, for example, a social worker or a legal counsellor.
Children should always be supported by a professional support person when they are involved in judicial proceedings, such as being at court. This could be, for example, a social worker or a legal counsellor.
During judicial proceedings, such as being at court, children should always be told what is going on. The information should be presented in a child-friendly and understandable way.
The Crime, safety and victims' rights – Summary presents the main insights from FRA’s second main report from its Fundamental Rights Survey.
FRA presented its online database of criminal detention conditions in the EU to judges and prosecutors.
FRA gave a presentation at the annual conference of the ‘Migration Law Network’, the largest professional hub of German-speaking migration lawyers and academics.
Acts of terrorism represent a serious threat to the lives and safety of people, and a profound security challenge for states. At the same time, laws and policies to counter the threat of terrorism can entail, directly or indirectly, serious limitations to fundamental rights and freedoms, finds a new report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Drawn from expert insight, it suggests how counter terrorism work can benefit from greater legal clarity, practical guidance and stronger safeguards.
FRA provided fundamental rights input during a professional development workshop on the detention of applicants for international protection, organised by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
FRA hosted three stakeholder meetings from 22 to 23 September in relation to fair policing.
On 24 August, FRA and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) signed a new Working Arrangement to further strengthen the good cooperation between the two agencies.
On 21 July 2021, FRA took part in an event introducing new study on the role of internet technologies in gender-based violence in Bulgaria. The study is part of the project “After the Storm: How to restore policy dialogue and supportive discourse against gender-based violence online in Bulgaria”
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in respecting the fundamental rights to health, education, employment and social protection across society. FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2021 plots the pandemic’s wide-ranging impact on rights and suggests how best to address increasing inequalities and threats to societal cohesion.
FRA presented its Fundamental Rights Charter resources and tools during a judicial training conference. It also showcased its new Charter e-guidance, an e-learning tool for judges on the Charter’s application. The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU hosted the ‘Modernising EU justice systems by boosting training of justice professionals’ conference.
The EU-funded PANELFIT H2020 project on AI for Crime Prediction and Prevention held a mutual learning encounter on 19 April. FRA joined participants at the event. It also included academic researchers and data protection experts.
Presumption of innocence is a core right in criminal justice. Yet, prejudice, bias and practices like presenting defendants in handcuffs undermine this right in many European countries, finds the latest report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). FRA calls on EU countries to respect the rights of all defendants, regardless of their background.
Every year across Europe, millions of Europeans are victims of consumer fraud. They are cheated or misled about their purchases, or they experience payment card fraud. People with disabilities are more likely to fall victim to fraud than other groups. These are some of the findings of the Fundamental Rights Agency’s (FRA) recent survey into people’s experiences of crime. On the World Consumer Rights Day, FRA calls on EU countries to step up their efforts to protect consumers.
More than one in four Europeans were victims of harassment and 22 million were physically attacked in one year. But crime victims typically do not report their experiences. They often have difficulties accessing their rights and may feel voiceless. These are the results of the first-ever EU-wide survey on the general population’s experience of crime, carried out by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The results reveal how targeted measures can help governments support victims and make it easier to report crime and receive justice.
FRA’s Fundamentally Right podcast series launched on 19 January. The final episode, Law: a bird's eye view, with FRA's Gabriel Toggenburg, is now out.
On 14 January, FRA held an online meeting with juvenile justice experts to consult on a new FRA project covering procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused in criminal proceedings. The project will provide evidence-based advice to EU institutions and Member States on the implementation of the EU’s Procedural Safeguards Directive.
FRA hosted a webinar on business and human rights for the agency’s National Liaison Officers (NLOs) and government experts.
On 3 November, the FRA Director met Ambassador Nuno Brito virtually, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the EU, to discuss FRA’s support to the upcoming Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU.
FRA discussed its business and human rights report with Members of the European Parliament on 27 October.
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FRA and the Council of Europe will gather experts to support the publication of a joint handbook on European law relating to cybercrime and fundamental rights.
On 4 November, FRA will take part in an online conference on civil society perspectives on the European Rule of Law mechanism.
The regular European Judicial Training Network study visit of judges and prosecutors to FRA will take place as a virtual visit on 4 October.
On 17 September, FRA will speak during an expert meeting on fundamental rights in security-related legislation.
The FRA Director will attend the first informal meeting on 16 July of justice ministers under the new Slovenian Presidency.
FRA will join an online panel discussion on 1 July on good practices for a child-friendly court. The panel aims to discuss good models of multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches in criminal proceedings that can support child participation, protect their best interests, and improve the quality of professional interventions through individual assessments.
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FRA will participate in the annual meeting of the Eurostat Working Group on Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics. The 5-6 May meeting brings together national statistical institutes, different European Commission Directorates-General and EU agencies.
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FRA’s Director will participate in the high-level online conference ‘For a people-centred e-justice’. The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of Europe hosts the event on 26 and 27 April.
FRA will meet partners online from its FRANET research network to implement the second part of its project on procedural safeguards for children in criminal proceedings. The focus will be on interviewing children to capture their experiences and perspectives in criminal proceedings. FRANET partners from seven EU Member States – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Poland and Portugal – will attend.
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FRA will give a presentation at the online conference ‘Three Decades of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics in Europe: Methods, Trends and the Impact on Policy Making’.
FRA will join an ad hoc meeting on 17 March on the digitalisation of justice. It will be the first of a series of thematic ad hoc meetings under the umbrella of the Victims’ Rights Platform in 2021 - one of the flagship initiatives of the EU’s Victims’ Rights Strategy.
On 17 March, FRA will present selected findings from its surveys during the European Forum for Urban Security (EFUS) General Assembly and Annual Conference.
On 11 March, FRA will give a virtual lecture about the EU justice system and its legal bodies to the EU Delegation to Turkmenistan. FRA will give an overview on the EU policy system, the Agency’s work and how it protects human rights in the EU.
FRA will give a presentation during a meeting on victims’ participation in criminal proceedings and access to justice. FRA will draw on its recently-published results from the Fundamental Rights Survey, as well as other FRA research.
The FRA Director will exchange views with EU Ministers of Justice during their informal videoconference on 11 March.
FRA will take part in a discussion on the application of the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant. The discussions form part of a FairTrials webinar on 18 February.
Too often victims of crime are denied their rights. They are left voiceless and unsupported. Young people and minorities particularly suffer, as FRA will reveal during a debate on 19 February.
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FRA will hold an online inception meeting to mark the start of its research into procedural safeguards for children suspected and accused of crime. The meeting on will gather partners from FRA’s research network from nine EU Member States – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Italy, Malta, Poland and Portugal – covered by the research.
The European Parliament is convening a hearing on the consequences and lessons from the COVID-19 crisis for people living in residential institutions. It will focus on the social and human rights perspective.
FRA’s Director will join the informal meeting of EU Justice Ministers on 29 January. He will contribute to discussions on the way forward for protecting vulnerable adults in Europe.