General information

Legal aid is a vital tool by which  the right of access to justice of the victims is protected. Up to now great attention has been given to Legal Aid granted to suspects while less attention has been paid to ensure full protection of victims’ right and access to Legal Aid in criminal proceedings.  In spite of numerous recommendations, EU countries grant different extent of legal aid to victims, so that outstanding disparities among Member States are evident.

The project addresses the priority  “A. Supporting victims of crime (VICS)”.  It addresses the access to justice of victims of crime, especially through the identification of  common criteria for the legal aid to victims to be applied in harmonization of EU legislation, and namely with reference to the adoption of the DIRECTIVE 2012/29/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. This recommendation will be also targeting those new Member States in which the system of legal aid for victims is in a phase a development, and for this reason we have chosen two of these countries (Poland, Latvia and Bulgaria) as pilot countries where to experiment and put forward conceptual tools of the project. After carrying out advance research on the legal systems of different EU countries and comparing them with the EU normative and recommended practices aimed to detect findings and flaws in the current practices, the project will develop information tools about victims’ rights to be distributed among specific categories of citizens having less access to this kind of information, in particular the citizens of rural areas, and provide a trainer for practitioners dealing with victims of crimes.

The partners are based in  different Member States, which ensures a transnational impact. They cover both Western Europe and Eastern Europe, providing different approaches to the topic with the view of finding common criteria for the legal aid protection of victims rights, above all with reference to future legislation that can eliminate flaws and difference at present detectable between the two geographical areas.

The complementarity among the partners is a clear strength: we have one Law faculty (AMU), one private consortium of Italian universities specialised in training of staff (CoInfo), one non-profit association specialised in justice, criminal law and judicial reforms (CSD) and one think tank (Providus).

Two of the t\ partners (AMU and CSD) have already collaborated in two previous project funded by the DG Justice in the programmes AGIS (2006) and criminal justice (2009 and terminating in March 2012). This existing cooperation, which has created a mutual trust among the two entities, is a factor that can facilitate the success of the project because its reduces the possibilities of disagreement and litigation among the partners. Also Providus and CSD have a long experience of collaboration on projects funded by the criminal justice programme.

Foreseen beneficiaries: general public of 3 partners society at large (Polish, Latvian and Bulgarian), especially countryside population. Members of prosecutor offices and NGOs, and police officers.

Main foreseen activities:

1) Research on international norms and partners’ legal systems to find out best practices on victims access to justice and right to legal aid, to be followed by EU countries.

2) Increase knowledge among ordinary population on legal aid and other services available to victims of crime.

3) Preparation and delivery of training of practitioners dealing with victims of crimes.

4) Dissemination

Main deliverables are:

1. Compendium of EU normative, recommended practices and jurisprudence on legal aid and protection of the rights of the victims of crime in courts

2. Information tools to be distributed among public in general and NGOs dealing with victims, and other stakeholders.

3. Information round tables for NGOs dealing with victims of crimes and citizens in general in the  target countries

4. Project website

5. Teaching module able to be replicated in other EU countries

6. Assessment development tools

7. Training course for practitioners

8. Handbook to be distributed among attendants of the training course.

9. Research paper proposing a model of police protocol, and court best practices ensuring respectful treatment, easy access to justice and compensation to victims of crime.