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.


  • Handbook / Guide / Manual
    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
    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.
Worker exploitation is not an isolated or marginal phenomenon. But despite its pervasiveness in everyday life, severe labour exploitation and its adverse effects on third-country nationals and EU citizens - as workers, but also as consumers - have to date not received much attention from researchers.
Making justice systems more child‑friendly improves
the protection of children, enhances their meaningful
participation and at the same time improves
the operation of justice. The findings in this summary
can provide Member States with useful tools
to identify barriers, gaps or weaknesses in their
judicial proceedings, especially in the process of
transposing and implementing relevant EU directives. Also available in BG - CS - DA - DE - EL - ES - ET - FI - FR - HR - HU - IT - LV - LT - MT - PL - PT - RO - SK - SK - SV
Each year thousands of children take part in criminal and civil judicial proceedings, affected by parental divorce
or as victims or witnesses to crime. Such proceedings can be stressful for anyone. The European Union Agency
for Fundamental Rights (FRA) investigated whether children’s rights are respected in these proceedings.
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.
This summary outlines the research findings of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on support services for victims of crime across the EU from a fundamental rights perspective. It gives an overview of how current victim support service provision across the 28 EU Member States compares in practice with the objectives and goals for victim support set out by the Victims’ Directive. The focus is on the directive’s Articles 8 and 9 on support services, although other closely related provisions are also considered.
FRA was requested by the European Commission (EC) in January 2014 to provide practical guidance on the processing of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for law enforcement purposes, in light of efforts by Member States to establish national PNR systems. As a result, in informal consultation with EC services and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and building on opinions FRA, the EDPS and the Article 29 Working Party on PNR, FRA presented twelve fundamental rights considerations to EU Member States experts at technical level.
The rights of victims of crime to access justice and to be protected against repeat victimisation may remain illusory in practice if the victim fails to receive professional advice and support. This research by the European Union Agency
for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines support service provision for such victims across the 28 EU Member States, in line with the 2012 EU Victims’ Directive. It focuses not on abstract fundamental rights standards but on the final
practical results.
The EU and its Member States took a variety of important steps in 2013 to protect and promote fundamental rights by
new international commitments, revamping legislation and pursuing innovative policies on the ground. Yet, fundamental
rights violations seized the spotlight with distressing frequency: would‑be migrants drowning off the EU’s coast,
unprecedented mass surveillance, racist and extremist‑motivated murders, child poverty and Roma deprivation.
This handbook aims to strengthen the protection of children, specifically addressing the particular needs of child victims of trafficking.
This year’s FRA annual report looks at fundamental rights-related developments in asylum, immigration and integration; border control and visa policy; information society, respect for private life and data protection; the rights of the child and the protection of children; equality and non-discrimination; racism, xenophobia and related intolerance; access to justice and judicial cooperation; rights of crime victims; EU Member States and international obligations.

Mapping victims’ rights and support in the EU

This data provides an overview of some of the key aspects related to support services for victims of crime.
In this paper, FRA looks at the overall institutional framework of the EU fundamental rights policy. Some of the proposals it contains include introducing an EU ‘fundamental rights policy cycle’ and a ‘European fundamental rights information system’. It also discusses the most pertinent fundamental rights elements in other policy areas of freedom, security and justice.
This factsheet presents some examples of survey findings, which are placed alongside general considerations as possible ‘ways forward’ for responding to violence against women.
The proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), mandated to prosecute crimes against the financial interests of the European Union, raises a number of fundamental rights issues.
Police officers who ensure that people are able to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms earn the respect and trust of the public. With this in mind, this manual sets out to foster such human rights-based police work by integrating human rights training into the heart of police training, in line with the European Union’s goals in the field of justice and home affairs.
The Opinion assesses the impact of the Framework Decision on the rights of the victims of crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice, including racism and xenophobia.
Drawing on evidence gathered in its surveys and reports, FRA submits a set of opinions aimed at improving the protection against discrimination. These could be taken into account in the implementation and the eventual reform of the EU legal framework on the protection against discrimination.
The Agency opened a workshop in Budapest on access to case materials by outlining the EU standards and presenting FRA findings regarding the implementation of the EU Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings.
The Agency gave a presentation on hate crime and victims’ rights to a group of high ranking police officers and police trainers from EU Member States on 8 June in Slovenia.
The Agency presented the Polish version of the handbook on European law relating to access to justice on 26 May to judges and attorneys from the Northern and Eastern Poland, Lithuania and Russia.
Over the last decade, new fundamental rights laws and policies have been adopted and specialist institutions created. But fundamental rights challenges still remain and rights are under attack, underlining the lack of a fundamental rights culture across institutions and societies, as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reveals in its 2017 Fundamental Rights Report.
The Agency presented findings from its research into child-friendly justice to the EU Council’s Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Citizens' Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP) on 3 May in Brussels.
While businesses can have an impact on human rights, victims may struggle to find justice despite various initiatives to improve respect for rights. The latest Opinion from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines the various difficulties victims may face when seeking access to justice. It also suggests what the EU can do to increase access to remedies for victims.
A network of national experts on how to enhance the monitoring of detention conditions is being set up.
Eurostat’s working group on crime and criminal justice statistics met in Luxembourg from 15 to 16 March to discuss issues related to the collection, processing and interpretation of crime statistics.
The Agency presented the handbook on European law relating to access to justice and its fundamental rights one-stop-shop, Charterpedia, to judges attending a capacity building workshop in Rome from 2 to 3 March.
The Agency shared copies of the Spanish version of the Handbook on European law relating to access to justice during a seminar on European Law relating to access to justice and its impact on Spanish law.
The Secretary General of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions (AASC), Mr Kim Yong-Hun, visited the Agency on 9 March.
The Agency shared findings from its reports on criminal justice with Fair Trials International’s Legal Expert Advisory Panel that met in Athens from 3 to 4 March in Athens.
The Agency is finalising its Opinion on enhancing access to justice when it comes to business and human rights that was requested by the EU Council.
Defence practitioners from the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) met with Agency experts on 24 February to discuss ongoing and emerging issues in the area of access to justice and migration.
EU rules essential to build trust in the EU’s area of justice are seldom invoked, potentially hindering the fair treatment of people involved in criminal proceedings. Two new reports from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) offer detailed guidance for the EU and its Member States to boost the effectivity of the criminal justice system.
On 22 June 2016, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Court of Human Rights launch a practical handbook on European law relating to access to justice.
Over one million people sought refuge in the EU in 2015, a fivefold increase from the year before. In its Fundamental Rights Report 2016, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines the scale and nature of the challenge and proposes measures to ensure fundamental rights are respected across the EU.
The European Union has always sought to boost innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the region. However, entrepreneurs often face long and complicated administrative procedures, time consuming reporting obligations, and difficulties in accessing credit. The freedom to conduct business, one of the lesser-known rights of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, is explored in detail with examples of how this right can also help boost growth and jobs, in this latest report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
Record numbers of migrants died as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2014. Member States should therefore consider offering more legal possibilities for people in need of international protection to enter the EU, as viable alternatives to risky irregular entry. This is one of the conclusions from this year’s Annual report which looks at developments across the EU in many areas over 2014.
Consumers are often unaware that the food they eat or the clothes they buy may have
been produced by people working under conditions of severe labour exploitation. A new
report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows that while the EU has
legislation prohibiting certain forms of severe labour exploitation, workers moving within
or migrating to the EU are at risk of becoming victims.
On 26 September the Confederation of European Probation (CEP) is hosting an annual expert meeting in Brussels on the implementation of two cross-border criminal justice Framework Decisions.
On 14 and 15 July, the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation on Lido (Venice, Italy) will focus its annual diplomatic conference on the right to remedy in relation to business and human rights, the theme of FRA’s April 2017 Opinion.
The Agency will open a workshop in Budapest on 8 June organised by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee on access to case materials.
The Agency will present findings from its work on detention during an event on improving detention conditions in the EU.
The Agency is co-organising a joint workshop on cross-border cooperation in criminal justice that will take place on 22 May in Vienna at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Representatives of National Preventive Mechanisms from across Europe will meet in Strasbourg from 4 to 5 April.
The President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), Nuria Díaz Abad, will discuss delivering effective justice systems with FRA’s Director on 17 March.
The Agency will present the Spanish version of the handbook on access to justice during a seminar on European law relating to access to justice.
At the advocacy organisations Fair Trials’ annual conference on 3-4 March, in Athens, FRA will contribute with a presentation on pre-detention standards and recent jurisprudence on cross-border cooperation, drawing on its reports on criminal justice from November 2016.