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Right to information in criminal proceedings

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Right to information in criminal proceedings

The Directive sets out rules concerning the right to information of suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings and relating to the accusation against them. It also lays down rules concerning the right to information of persons subject to a European Arrest Warrant.

ACT

Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings.

SUMMARY

This Directive is applicable from the time that persons are made aware by the competent authorities of an EU country that they are suspected or accused of having committed a criminal offence. It applies until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, including, where applicable, sentencing and the resolution of any appeal.

EU countries must ensure that suspects or accused persons are informed of their following procedural rights:

  • the right of access to a lawyer;
  • any entitlement to free legal advice and the conditions for obtaining such advice;
  • the right to be informed of the accusation, ie. the criminal act they are suspected or accused of having committed;
  • the right to interpretation and translation;
  • the right to remain silent.

All information above must be provided either orally or in writing, in simple and accessible language, taking into account any particular needs of vulnerable persons.

Letter of Rights

Suspects or accused persons who are arrested or detained must be provided with a written Letter of Rights, which they have an opportunity to read and which they are allowed to keep in their possession for the duration that they are detained. As well as the information on procedural rights above, the Letter of Rights shall include information on the following as they apply under national law:

  • the right of access to the materials of the case;
  • the right to have consular authorities and one person informed;
  • the right of access to urgent medical assistance;
  • the maximum number of hours or days that suspects or accused persons may be detained before being brought before a judicial authority;
  • any possibility of challenging the lawfulness of the arrest and obtaining a review of the detention or making a request for provisional release.

The Letter of Rights must be drafted in simple and accessible language, and given to the suspects or accused persons in a language that they understand. Where a Letter of Rights is unavailable in the appropriate language, the persons must be informed of their rights orally in a language that they understand. A Letter of Rights should then be provided as soon as possible in a language that they understand.

Persons who are arrested for the purpose of the execution of a European Arrest Warrant must be promptly provided with a Letter of Rights containing information on their rights according to the national law implementing Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA in the EU country in question.

Right to information about the accusation

EU countries must ensure that suspects or accused persons are informed about the criminal act that they are suspected or accused of having committed and of the reasons for their arrest or detention.

At the latest on submission of the merits of the accusation to a court, detailed information must be provided on the accusation, including the nature and legal classification of the criminal offence, as well as the nature of participation by the accused person. EU countries must ensure that suspects or accused persons are kept informed of any changes in information.

Right of access to the materials of the case

Where a person is arrested and detained during criminal proceedings, all documents related to the case in the possession of the competent authorities, which are essential to challenging the accusation, must be made available to the arrest persons or to their lawyers.

Remedies

EU countries must ensure that suspects or accused persons or their lawyers have the right to challenge any failure or refusal of the competent authorities to provide information in accordance with this Directive.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2012/13/EU

21.6.2012

2.6.2014

OJ L 142 of 1.6.2012

Last updated: 23.01.2013

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