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NEWS

LEAP: Innovation and Inspiration

editor - March 17, 2016 - LEAP, LEAP annual conference, legal experts advisory panel

We’ve already heard this week about who LEAP are, how its members help to identify the underlying causes of unfair trials when they appear; how they also help explain to policy-makers what changes are really needed, and work to make sure that laws passed in Brussels have a real impact on the protection of fair trial rights in practice. Today’s post considers a real life example of how a LEAP member has attempted this in practice.
Agata Stajer Black and WhiteAgata Stajer was first introduced to LEAP when she attended one of Fair Trials’ training sessions in Warsaw in November 2014.  Agata had previously spent six months with Fair Trials’ partner organisation Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
Her experience at Fair Trials’ training demonstrated in a clear way how one could combine the law with human rights. Inspired by her experience, Agata along with one of her colleagues, Piotr, set up their own organization called the Initiative Group (IG). The organization sought to build on the knowledge acquired at the training session and disseminate vital findings and information to colleagues at a national level.
As a first step, the Initiative Project compiled brochures of vital EU legislation regarding the directives, translating them into the Polish language, so that they could be distributed to law firms around the country. The Bar Councils have reported that it was an important initiative, and that they would support them in further initiatives. The group has also sought to encourage the Polish government to adhere to EU directives via the Polish ombudsman, the Advocate for Citizens' Rights.
The IG also had a training for young practitioners, about access to a lawyer and how to ensure that it happens in practice in police stations. With plans to hold a conference involving lawyers and police officers, the IG is working on further materials. Its members are all from different cities, and they all have busy practices, but they were able to find each other through the Warsaw training.
In 2015 Agata and her colleague Piotr attended the LEAP annual conference. It was at this conference that the two met Alejandro Gámez Selma. Alejandro was attempting to do similar work in Spain, and through LEAP the two groups have been able share experiences and advice.
The adoption of EU legislation is just the first step. EU-wide laws on fair trial rights will not have any impact unless they are implemented effectively, and it is LEAP members like Agata who are working to ensure that this happens through a number of activities.

Each day this week we will be covering a different aspect of LEAP, the Legal Experts Advisory Panel.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +44 (0) 7950 849 851.

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If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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