DCI launches new European project “My Lawyer, My Rights”

Access to legal counsel and representation throughout criminal judicial proceedings is essential to enable children to effectively enjoy and exercise their rights. Despite containing few provisions on children’s rights, the European Union’s Directive 2013/48/EU, which enshrines the rights of all suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings, refers to the Council of Europe’s Guidelines on Child Friendly Justice that recognize the need to adapt justice systems to the specific rights and needs of children. Yet, the systematic implementation of the guidelines and the subsequent respect of children’s rights still remain a work in progress. For example, access to a specilaized lawyer remains a challenge for children in most European countries.

Funded by the European Commission and coordinated by DCI-Belgium, the project MY LAWYER, MY RIGHTS aims to :

  • Advocate for the effective implementation of the three EU Directives on procedural rights, and to support EU Member States in their implementation ;
  • Assist EU Member States in establishing national structures specialized in legal and social aid for children;
  • Provide appropriate support to lawyers specialized in children’s rights in order to reinforce their role and mission;
  • Focus on children’s views and opinions by asking them what THEY think of their right to be effectively assisted during proceedings.
  • Specify the conditions for an effective right to defence, and promote knowledge on (inter)national legislation and best practices  in the field of juvenile justice

To this end, activities will include :

  • A mapping of lawyers specialized in children’s rigths and the system in which they operate, in at least 25 EU countries. The desk research will include analysis of existing legislations and measures put in place for specialized lawyers.
  • The creation of an online platform to monitor the implementation of relevant EU directives and to share practical knowledge with relevant stakeholders
  • The development of practical tools to strenghten the capacities of professionals and decision-makers
  • Advocating and promoting dialogue with decision-makers, lawyers and other professionals working with children in six countries (Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Ireland and Bulgaria), as well as conducting wider awareness-raising activities, inclduing the presentation of the project’s outputs before the European Parliament and other EU instances.

Information about the project

Duration: 2 years , September 2016 – August 2018

Project partners :

  1. BELGIUM – Defence for Children International (DCI) – coordinator
  2. ITALY – Defence for Children International (DCI)
  3. THE NETHERLANDS – Defence for Children International (DCI)
  4. POLAND – Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  5. IRELAND – Child Law Clinic (UCC)
  6. BULGARIA – Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
  7. BELGIUM – Child Circle
  8. DLA Piper – European Law firm
  9. European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA)

A website dedicated to the project will be soon made available online.

This post is also available in: ES