European Union proposal risks suspects' rights to access a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest

Monday, August 13, 2012

In a response to the ongoing negotiations on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and on the right to communicate upon arrest, the APT has drafted a position paper. 

The paper responds to some of the key threats presented by the most recent draft of the Council of the European Union, which attempts to reduce the protections to a level beneath that currently protected by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as other relevant provisions of international law.

The APT strongly recommends the protection of three key safeguards which should apply from the fist moment of detention - the right of access to a lawyer, right to a medical examination, and right to communicate with a third person upon arrest. Recognition of these rights recognizes that the most serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment occurs during arrest and in the initial stages of detention. These three protective measures safeguard the detainee from the risk of torture.

The draft directive is one of several reforms intended by the European Union to strengthen the procedural rights of suspected or accused persons in criminal proceedings (part of the EU Stockholm Programme). This Proposal is part of a set of measures comprising a directive on the right to interpretation and translation and another on the right to information.

The draft directive on right of access to a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest is now being negotiated between the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission.