The EU Roadmap on procedural rights for suspects and accused people in criminal matters continues apace, with three Commission proposals for Directives being considered by the institutions: the right to legal aid; procedural safeguards for children; and strengthening certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial. The UK has an option whether to engage in deliberations and voting on these instruments and has decided not to opt in at this stage, though once they are adopted, could choose to do so at any time. We prepared detailed briefings on the first two measures in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists and Dutch section of the ICJ.
The proposed directive on the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial contains some welcome provisions regarding the protection of the presumption of innocence in statements by public authorities until someone is convicted, full protection of the right to remain silent, and to be informed of this right, and a right to be present at one’s trial or to have a fresh determination of the evidence if they were not informed that the trial was taking place.
Despite these strong starting points, our joint briefing makes a number of recommendations to ensure that the rights are sufficiently available and protected in practice.