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Procedural safeguards for vulnerable persons in criminal proceedings

This recommendation calls upon Member States to enhance certain procedural rights of vulnerable suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings.


Commission Recommendation of 27 November 2013 on procedural safeguards for vulnerable persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings.


The recommendation aims to strengthen the procedural rights of suspects or accused persons who are not able to understand and to effectively participate in criminal proceedings due to age, mental or physical condition or disabilities (vulnerable persons). It also applies to vulnerable persons subject to European arrest warrant proceedings.

Identification of vulnerable persons

Vulnerable persons should be promptly identified as such. After an initial assessment by law enforcement or judicial authorities, an independent medical expert shall determine the degree of their vulnerability, their specific needs and the appropriateness of any measures taken or envisaged against them.

Rights of vulnerable persons

  • They should not be subject to any discrimination in the exercise of their procedural rights.
  • Persons with serious mental disorders or physical/sensorial impairments should be presumed vulnerable.
  • Vulnerable persons and their legal representative (e.g. a court appointed guardian) or an appropriate adult (e.g. a relative) should be informed of their specific procedural rights. The latter should also be present at the police station and during court hearings.
  • The right of access to a lawyer should not be waived if a vulnerable person is unable to understand the proceedings.
  • They should have access to medical assistance throughout criminal proceedings if they are deprived of liberty.
  • Police questioning should be audio-visually recorded.
  • Deprivation of liberty of vulnerable persons before their conviction should be a measure of last resort, proportionate, and take place under conditions suited to their specific needs.
  • Their privacy, personal integrity and personal data should be protected throughout the criminal proceedings.

Law enforcement and judicial authorities competent in criminal proceedings conducted against vulnerable persons should receive appropriate training.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Commission recommendation



OJ C 378 of 24.12.2013


Directive 2013/48/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in European arrest warrant proceedings, and on the right to have a third party informed upon deprivation of liberty and to communicate with third persons and with consular authorities while deprived of liberty (OJ L 294, 6.11.2013).

Last updated: 17.06.2014