The European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee has adopted its position for negotiations with the EU Council of Ministers on a new law designed to guarantee all criminal suspects the right to have a lawyer before questioning and during proceedings, although it does not cover legal aid.
Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford commented:
“In the UK the right to have a lawyer present during police questioning is now firmly ingrained in our legal system, not least because of bad experience of people being ‘fitted up’. Unfortunately, this right is not always respected in all EU countries.”
MEPs also approved in the same committee session the final negotiated text of a law guaranteeing greater support for victims, including protection, reasonable expenses and compensation when appropriate.
The UK coalition government has already decided to sign up to this, although on the ‘right to lawyer’ measure it will only decide on the basis of the final negotiation result.
Sarah Ludford added:
“These proposed new laws represent a welcome strengthening of criminal justice systems across Europe to guarantee fair trials, as an essential accompaniment to the European Arrest Warrant. Together they will better protect British people arrested or caught up in a crime abroad.”
“I hope the UK will maintain its leading role in criminal cooperation and the improvement of justice standards in Europe by participating in the measure on right to a lawyer. Failure to do so may prejudice the rights of Brits abroad.”
Note to editors
A previous press release by Sarah Ludford on this topic is at http://www.sarahludfordmep.org.uk/node/414