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Inside Police Custody 2: Suspects' rights at the investigative stage of the criminal process

Background of the project

Case law of the European Court of Human rights shows that violations of defence rights, as for example set out in Articles 5 and 6 European Convention of Human Rights, do occur across all EU Member States. As the EU has passed more and more measures in the area of criminal justice, such as the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant, there has been increased demand for the EU to make sure human rights are complied with in the respective criminal procedures by EU Member States. Additionally, the EU has an interest to promote mutual trust among EU Member States in order to facilitate mutual recognition of judicial decisions. Common minimum standards contribute to this endeavour. 

Consequently, the EU has passed a procedural rights package, including a number of Directives on the procedural rights of suspects in criminal matters:

  • Directive on the right to interpretation and translation;
  • Directive on the right to information about rights in criminal proceedings
  • Directive on the right to access to a lawyer
  • the right for a detained person to communicate with family members, employers and consular authorities ;
  • Recommendation on the right to protection for vulnerable suspects 

(More details about the EU’s Roadmap on procedural rights can be found here.)

The current project aims to contribute to the successful implementation of EU legislation on the procedural rights of suspects in criminal matters, with an aim to develop recommendations for legislative and policy changes. 

This research project was  conducted in nine countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) was tasked to conduct the research and produce the report for Austria.

In Austria, the project was conducted in close cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Viennese Bar Association. A project advisory board had been established to ensure quality of the results. 

Project methodology

As a result of the project, detailed country reports were elaborated regarding the situation in each of the countries and providing answers to the following questions:

  • To which extent are the European standards and domestic regulations on procedural rights of suspects in police detention applied in law and practice? 
  • Which are practical obstacles and challenges to the effective implementation of these rights?
  • What is the wider professional context for police, defence lawyers, and other criminal justice actors in facilitating effective provision of suspects’ procedural rights? 
  • Are there any differences in the provision of these rights in cross-border cases?

To answer these questions, the BIM conducted its research through legal research, focus group discussions, interviews with police officers, defence lawyers, suspects, as well as relevant experts from different regions in Austria and possibly observational research. 

Findings

Along with the nine country reports, a report was published comparing the legal and practical application of suspects’ rights to the existent EU legal standards and frameworks of protection.

The results and recommendations for the Austrian context were summarised in the report "Inside Police Custody – Country report for Austria" and were presented at the conference in Vienna on 14 December 2018. 

The national as well as the comparative report are available for download.

Country: 
Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain
Persons involved: 

Gerrit Zach, Moritz Birk, Nora Katona

 
Contact persons: 
Lead Organisation: 
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
Project start: 
09/2016
Project end: 
12/2018
Funded by: 
Europäische Kommission (DG Justice)
Team: 
Human Dignity and Public Security

Co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union 

Disclaimer

This project is implemented with the financial support of the Justice Programme of the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the BIM and its project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.