A vote on granting legal aid to those who are suspected or accused of a crime, or whose name is on the European Arrest Warrant was passed by MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

Anyone who cannot afford a lawyer or court proceedings is to be granted the rights to both ‘provisional’ and ‘ordinary’ legal aid across member states for funding and assistance.

GUE/NGL MEP and rapporteur for ‘Legal Aid for suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings’ on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Dennis De Jong said after the vote:

“I am content with the adoption of this directive and it was the best possible result achieved in the negotiations with the Commission and the Council.”

“Legal aid is an instrument for avoiding class justice. The right for access to a lawyer has already been set out in another directive but this new one on legal aid brings into practise this right for all people – regardless of one's income,” said the Dutch MEP. 

“In this directive, there are also certain criteria on the quality of the legal aid to be given. I am convinced that many citizens will gain from this though, of course, that very much depends on the current state of play in different member states.”

“So for now, the most important issue for the Commission is to take a closer look at implementing this directive in all member states,” concluded De Jong.

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