Opinion: the Coalition Government is protecting fair trial rights in Europe

The Coalition Government has today announced that it will take part in EU legislation on the right to information in criminal proceedings. The so-called “Letter of Rights”. This is one of a number of steps in the “Roadmap” designed to protect individual rights and raise fair trial standards in Europe. It is a much needed counter-balance to the powers police and prosecutors have when working across-borders.

This Letter of Rights is designed to be a short, standard written statement of basic rights given to a suspect when they are arrested and, importantly, before they are questioned. It is closely modelled on the system in place in England and Wales today. Having information on your rights leads to better protection and respect for those rights. This letter will be written in plain, simple terms and translated if necessary. It will offer help and assistance for those who find themselves in trouble abroad giving them information on their right to consult a lawyer or have interpretation if needed.

It is a clear sign of how the Liberal Democrat commitment to civil liberties is taking shape in this government. The Labour government refused to back such a move previously.

In the area of police and crime policy the UK Government has a choice whether to be bound by legislation in this area or not. Clear criteria set out in the Coalition Agreement for signing up to EU legislation in relation to criminal law include protecting Britain’s civil liberties.

The right decision has been made.

Julia Bateman stood as PPC for Gedling in the 2010 General Election.

Read more by .
This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/21767 for Twitter and emails.
Advert

7 Comments

  • It certainly seems like a good idea for the rights of the citizen to be at the heart of criminal proceedings. As always the devil may well lie in the detail.

    It is essential that people know their rights before being questioned as in many cases it creates untold further problems later in the process if people do not get adequate legal advice etc.

  • “This Letter of Rights is designed to be a short, standard written statement of basic rights given to a suspect when they are arrested and, importantly, before they are questioned. ”

    How is this consistent with our desire to reduce police red tape? It sounds like police officers will have to carry standard copies of this to give to people.

  • Hywel – reducing red tape was not a massive priority for us. Red tape, stop and search forms are all vitally important for holding police to account.

    Chris, I agree, though it is not identical to Labour’s, requires ISPs rather than the government to hold data, and police would require a warrant to check the info. Having said that – I agree, and it would be good to see an MP object ot this now.

  • Julia Bateman 25th Oct '10 - 10:48pm

    Re red tape – we already have a “Notice of Rights and Entitlements” in England and Wales which sets out a person’s rights and entitlements while in police detention. This is translated into 43 languages at the moment. So this adds no extra burden. It will however sets standards in other EU Member States to have such a system and help protect Brits (and others) abroad.

  • vince thurnell 26th Oct '10 - 6:28am

    I’d of thought a right to representation should play a big part in peoples civil liberties, so how does reducing legal aid fall into having a fair trial ?.

  • Sounds like an excellent, common sense measure – another reason for supporting the EU :)

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarHywel 7th Mar - 12:28am
    “The fact is that assimilation happens whether anyone likes it or not. Those insular monolingual communities will, in ten or twenty years’ time, be crowded...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 7th Mar - 12:04am
    jedibeeftrix You can't answer it because it is bullshit. The only requirement on someone in the UK is for them to obey the law. They...
  • User AvatarMartin 6th Mar - 11:54pm
    expats: Yes, Clegg is helping Cameron in that he is making a head to head debate more unlikely. Since Clegg does not want a Miliband...
  • User AvatarHireton 6th Mar - 11:49pm
    @sesenco "The SNP is an extremely ruthless, determined, tightly organised separatist movement that shamelessly exploits sentimental, chauvinistic, backward-looking nationalist sentiment, legitimises and encourages the poison...
  • User AvatarMartin 6th Mar - 11:48pm
    Matthew: You are vastly over-estimating anything that will get through relating to Clegg. The headlines are all about Cameron. I do not want to see...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 6th Mar - 11:46pm
    Philip Thomas A clear break with the Tories? When you say that, do you mean that we are NOT going to have a clear break...