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COVID-19 & defence rights

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, criminal justice systems around the world have had to adapt. Many of these changes have made it much more difficult for defendants to get a fair trial. In many countries, physical access to courts and police stations has been restricted, leading to a greater use of video-link and telephone hearings. In practice, these restrictions and the lack of properly functioning technology has been having a serious impact on defence rights.  Fair Trials has published a guide with recommendations to safeguard defendants’ rights in remote criminal proceedings.

Read our updates and commentary pieces about remote justice.

Access to a lawyer, to information, and to interpretation services have all been severely affected. These rights are essential to guarantee the fairness of proceedings. To ensure statements obtained during questioning by police are given fairly, suspects should be able to speak with their lawyers in confidence before the interview and to have a lawyer’s support during questioning. Fair Trials has produced materials for lawyers to use to advocate for their clients’ right to legal advice (and for remedies where it has been denied).

Read our updates and commentary pieces about access to a lawyer.

Social distancing and the increased use of remote justice tools can have a greater negative impact on defendants who need access to interpretation services. The right to interpretation necessitates a quality of interpretation which enables the accused not only to understand but also to “actively participate” in proceedings.

Read our updates and commentary pieces about access to interpretation services.

Keep up to date

COVID-19 Justice Project Newsletter

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.