NHRI: Strengthening the rights of persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings – the role of National Human Rights Institutions

Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has adopted a series of key measures on the rights of suspect and accused in criminal proceedings, such as on the right to information, the right to interpretation and translation, the right to access to a lawyer, the right to legal aid, the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial, as well as safeguards for vulnerable persons suspected or accused. Moreover, the project comes at a time when global research has found that legal and procedural safeguards in the first hours of arrest are particularly useful to prevent torture and ill-treatment. In order to achieve its objective in strengthening the procedural rights of persons suspected and accused in criminal proceedings, the EU relies upon EU Member States to transpose and apply these measures in practice. National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can play an important role in this regard.

With the overall aim to strengthen the role of NHRIs in ensuring an effective and coherent application of EU legal instruments and strengthening of suspects and accused rights, the project aims to:

  • Contribute to an effective and coherent application of the EU measures on the rights of persons suspected or accused of crime across the EU
  • Raise the awareness among and building the capacity of NHRIs on the relevant EU law, thereby improving their overall knowledge of European standards in the area of the rights of persons accused and suspected of crime and strengthening suspects’ and accused rights
  • Strengthen the mutual learning, exchange, and cooperation between NHRIs across the EU, NHRIs and national actors, and NHRIs and EU institutions on rights of persons suspected or accused of crime

Project execution


  • Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (Austria, coordinator)
  • Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary)
  • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)


European Commission