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
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.
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.
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.
The Criminal Detention Database 2015-2019 combines in one place information on detention conditions in all 28 EU Member States.
11
December
2019
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.
2
December
2019
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.
27
November
2019
French and German versions now available
01 March 2022
Facial recognition technology (FRT) makes it possible to compare digital facial images to determine whether they are of the same person. Comparing footage obtained from video cameras (CCTV) with images in databases is referred to as ‘live facial recognition technology’. Examples of national law enforcement authorities in the EU using such technology are sparse – but several are testing its potential. This paper therefore looks at the fundamental rights implications of relying on live FRT, focusing on its use for law enforcement and border-management purposes.
27
September
2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
13
June
2019
New language versions: FI, MT, PT, CS, LV, LT, SK, SL, SV, ET
03 November 2020
Children deprived of parental care found in another EU Member State other than their own aims to strengthen the response of all relevant actors for child protection. The protection of those girls and boys is paramount and an obligation for EU Member States, derived from the international and European legal framework. The guide includes a focus on child victims of trafficking and children at risk, implementing an action set forth in the 2017 Communication stepping up EU action against trafficking in human beings, and takes into account identified patterns, including with respect to the gender specificity of the crime.
11
June
2019
Algorithms used in machine learning systems and artificial intelligence (AI) can only be as good as the data used for their development. High quality data are essential for high quality algorithms. Yet, the call for high quality data in discussions around AI often remains without any further specifications and guidance as to what this actually means.
6
June
2019
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.
The freedom to conduct a business, one of the lesser-known rights of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, can help boost growth and jobs across the EU.
Children need to be heard and be involved in all issues that concern them. This includes the justice system.
To mark the European Day for Victims of Crime on 22 February, FRA has created this infographic based on the the report: Victims of crime in the EU: the extent and nature of support for victims, published in January, 2015.
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.
Faced with COVID-19, people are increasingly spending their time in the digital world. But as in the real world, there are dangers lurking out there. Many fall victim to fraudsters and online hate. To mark European Day of Justice on 25 October, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) urges the EU and Member States to step up the protection of victims online.
The FRA Director participated in the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs on 22 October.
Holding big business responsible for its human rights violations is difficult and many victims never get justice, finds a new report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). This is due to the complexity of multinational corporations spanning different countries with networks of subsidiaries and supply chains. The report identifies practical, procedural and financial barriers the EU and its Member States should eliminate to ensure victims of such violations have access to effective remedies.
The Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child held a virtual plenary session on September 17.
Most Europeans are worried about their data and bank details being misused by criminals and fraudsters. Two in five Europeans have been harassed face-to-face and every fifth is very worried of experiencing a terrorist attack. These findings come from the Fundamental Rights Survey, carried out by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in the European Union, North Macedonia and the United Kingdom in 2019. The results feed into the European Commission’s Security Union Strategy.
On 9 July, FRA Director exchanged views with Heads of the Justice and Home Affairs Agencies about the impact of COVID-19 on fundamental rights and on FRA’s activities.
On 26 June, FRA joined the first exchange of views of the Council of Europe’s Child Rights Steering Committee.
The OECD held its annual Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct on 17 June.
FRA participated in a CEPOL webinar to introduce the challenges and principles linked to the use of profiling by law enforcement officers.
On 6 April, FRA joined the informal videoconference of EU Ministers of Justice to discuss crisis coordination during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 31 March, FRA took part in a meeting of the Research Advisory Group on mapping child protection data systems across EU Member States.
FRA outlined the main findings from its facial recognition technology paper during a European Parliament hearing in Brussels on 20 February.
Crimes violate people’s fundamental rights. Therefore, victims have a right to criminal justice. European Day for Victims of Crime, on 22 February, offers the chance to examine the protection Member States offer to safeguard victims’ rights.
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.
FRA will join an online seminar on 19 January organised by the Open Society Justice Initiative. During the webinar, researchers will present findings from a comparative evaluation of police reforms in the UK and US.
FRA will present its plans to update its Criminal Detention database during a meeting of the Council Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters on 26 October.
The European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) will host a session during EU Regions Week to discuss how best to safeguard the rights of mobile EU citizens in post-pandemic times.
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FRA will present its new report on business and human rights during a workshop at conference entitled ‘Global Supply Chains, Global Responsibility’
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On 8-9 October, FRA will present an overview of its activities at the Eurostat Working Group meeting on Statistics on Crime and Criminal Justice.
The regular study visit of judges and prosecutors to FRA, organised by the European Judicial Training Network, takes place this time as a virtual meeting.
FRA’s Director will focus on child rights in emergency situations and what can we learn from COVID-19 in his address to the 13th European Forum on the rights of the child on 30 September.
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FRA will chair a session on business and human rights during this year’s European Law Institute’s conference.
On 27 July, FRA will take part online in the first meeting of the European Economic and Social Committee’s study group on the Victims’ Rights Strategy.
On 22 July, FRA is going to publish ‘Your rights matter: Security concerns and experiences’ paper which looks at people’s security concerns and their worries about experiencing certain crimes.
On 9 July, FRA’s Director will participate in a virtual meeting of the Heads of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies.
On 6 July, the FRA Director will take part in the informal meeting of EU Justice Ministers.
FRA will exchange views with the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on establishing an EU Mechanism on democracy, the Rule of Law and fundamental rights.