in Europe

Procedural Rights of Children Suspected or Accused in Criminal Proceedings in the EU

Regional Comparative Report

Asmita Naik | Terre des hommes | 45 pages
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The ‘Procedural Rights of Juveniles Suspected or Accused in the European Union’ (PRO-JUS) project was set up to help ensure that foreign children who are suspected or accused of crimes in European Union countries have access to a fair trial. The project involved studying the application of the following three European Union Directives aimed at upholding the rights of interpretation, information, and access to legal and other support:

1. Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings;
2. Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information in criminal proceedings;
3. Directive 2013/48/EU 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.

The research was carried out by teams in five countries - Belgium, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Spain – and involved desk research, interviews and specialised database analysis. A total of 152 interviews were carried out with 109 adults and 43 children. The country research was analysed in order to produce this comparative report which identifies common issues, trends and examples of good practice.

In terms of the context, most of the countries under review have well-developed and distinct juvenile justice systems which in the case of France and Belgium date back to over 50 years. Hungary is the only country which does not have a specific code and separate institutions for persons under 18 accused of criminal offences. Each country has a different approach to juvenile justice although all are premised on the recognition that allowances and adjustments need to be
made for children taking into account their different level of maturity as compared to adults.


- The 3 Directives have been or are in the process of being transposed into national law in all 5 countries
- The rights in question already exist in national laws and have been reaffirmed or refined by the application of the Directives
- Procedural rights in question are observed in a formal sense but challenges remain in implementation



-Increase data collection on the scale and characteristics of the phenomenon
-Establish clear protocols for the use of intermediary languages for interpretation
-Make greater use of communications technology
-Utilize standardized procedures for determining the need for interpretation
-Provide training for professionals involved in the criminal justice system
-Provide a standard written and translated letter of rights
-Set up systems of quality control for interpretation
-Strengthen official registers of interpreters
-Encourage coordination between professionals involved in the criminal justice process
-Ensure greater coordination between different parts of government
-Encourage greater cross-border cooperation and sharing of tools and methodologies