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Reviews

Opinions 2013 11 07

“For the right to an attorney and a fair case trial”

A Lithuanian citizen abroad in another European Union country was detained and questioned by police for a few hours without the presence of a lawyer for causing a conflict in public.
It is clear that this citizen of the Republic of Lithuania,did not have the right to an adequate fair trial,which is important for Lithuania and its citizens.
For the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian citizens that are living and working abroad most in other EU countries, this is something we take into consideration.
In September,the European Parliament voted on a directive which stated that all suspects and detainees, no matter in which EU country they are residing in,has the right to contact an attorney from the moment of detention until the end of the trial.
The Directive "The Right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and The Right to communicate upon arrest" also states that suspects have the right to contact family members,employer and his/her country`s consulate to report their arrest.
This Directive aims for an even minimum legal standard to be applied for all detainees and suspects throughout the EU. The aim is to guarantee the following rights: the right to an attorney and legal advice from the first police questioning; the right to appropriate and confidential suspect and lawyer meetings; the possibility for the attorney to actively participate in questioning and be allowed to check the conditions of the suspect`s detention; for those an European arrest warrant was issued,has the right to legal advice in the country which he/she was detained also in the country that issued the warrant.
The right to a lawyer is crucial in order to strengthen trust for common European Union justice.This directive that is mentioned in this article,is the third one which aims to guarantee minimum rights to a fair case investigation throughout the EU. Other directives provide rights to a written and verbal translation and rights to information during criminal proceedings.

Every year there are over 8 million criminal proceedings in the EU.But conditions for consultation with an attorney differ in many countries of the EU.As in the example above,this citizen of the Republic of Lithuania was not presented with the opportunity to consult with a lawyer. At the moment  the strength of evidence collected without the presence of a lawyer differ within EU countries.
The directive"Right of Access to a Lawyer in Criminal Proceedings and the Right to Communicate upon Arrest" will apply to all 28 EU countries,by 2017 all EU members must ensure detainees or suspects the right to contact a lawyer from the very first questioning by police.
EU security is important but it is also necessary to strengthen justice in it.It is necessary to go one step forward and induct legal measures along with legal help free of charge,ensure access to a lawyer from the first minute of questioning by authorities,for all citizens,regardless of income and property.
 

ZIGMANTAS BALČYTIS
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

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