A group of 65 Czech and Slovak lawyers attended the cross-border launch of the HELP course on Procedural Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings and Victims´ Rights, organised under the EU funded project “HELP in the EU” on 30 and 31 January 2020 in Bratislava.
The event, hosted by the Slovak Bar Association (SBA) at their premises in Bratislava, in cooperation with the Czech Bar Association (CBA), was opened by Ondrej Laciak, Vice-President of the SBA and Petr Poledník, Member of the Board of directors of the CBA.
The programme included presentations on current challenges to procedural safeguards, the relevant legal framework and European case-law. Roman Kubovic, lawyer at the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, did a thorough analysis of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the Court´s jurisprudence. He highlighted how the European Court of Human Rights is not a court of appeal; its role is to look at the procedural fairness (i.e. errors made by national judges and authorities, admissibility and assessment of evidence at trial); whether there was a limitation to the right to access to justice and whether that limitation was proportionate. He also showed the audience how to find relevant information and documents on the Court´s website.
Ondrej Laciak provided an overview of the EU Roadmap Directives, underlining the current challenges to their implementation, such as the poor quality of interpretation offered to persons in detention, the ´Letter of Rights´-introduced by Directive 2012/13/EU- not being available at police stations or not being written in a plain language understandable to the accused, etc. He also highlighted the need for additional Directives, perhaps a Roadmap 2020.
Jiri Novak gave an overview of the right to a fair trial, from its origins to the present legal framework, both at Council of Europe and at EU level. He carefully analysed relevant articles of the European Convention on Human Rights - article 6 (right to a fair trial), article 7 (no punishment without law), article 8 (right to respect for one's private and family life), etc – and explained the different search options on the HUDOC database.
During the event, Eva Massa, Project Coordinator, presented the HELP Programme and the ‘HELP in the EU’ project and introduced the participants to the HELP online course on Procedural Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings and Victims’ Rights.
Participants got familiarised with the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) Programme of the Council of Europe and its e-learning platform containing 35 online courses.
Following the launch event, all participants were enrolled on the course pages and will go through the online course in the coming 3 months. The participants who successfully complete the course will receive HELP certificates issued by the Council of Europe.
The HELP online course on Procedural Safeguards in Criminal Proceedings and Victims’ Rights is also available to any legal professional interested in the topic, in the self-learning part of the HELP e-learning platform, in English, and will soon be made available in Czech, French, Romanian, Slovak and Spanish.
The HELP course was developed combining both the fundamental procedural rights of accused and suspected persons in criminal proceedings and the rights of victims of crime, encompassing standards from both Council of Europe (mainly European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights case law) and the EU (focusing on the Roadmap Directives and the relevant CJEU case law).