07 July 2015
Fair Trials and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee organized a practitioner training on 19-21 June in Budapest attended by lawyers from Croatia, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. The training provided presentations delivered by experts of the Fair Trials on the roadmap directives and a forum for discussion about the relevant practical experiences of the participating lawyers.
The workshop focusing on the implementation of the Directives in the Hungarian jurisdiction, which was moderated by the staff member of the HHC, provided an opportunity for the Hungarian participants to discuss their own practical experiences.
The discussion demonstrated that the implementation of the Directives in Hungary is far from complete. As to the Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, it is alarming that the Code of Criminal Procedure does not prescribe the translation of all documents which are essential under the Directive. In practice, irrelevant files are translated frequently, while essential documents (e.g. decisions on the prolongation of pre-trial detention) remain in a sole Hungarian version. Even though according to the comments of the participants, the costs of communication of attorneys and clients are covered, a relevant legal regulation is missing. No national register of interpreters with competence in legal terminology and no quality assurance system exist. At the same time, there is no effective remedy in the trial phase of the criminal proceedings in case the interpretation or translation is of poor quality.
Despite the fact that the deadline for the implementation of the Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information has passed, gaps were detected in this field as well. The content of the information provided to the defendant is not in compliance with the Directive and those in short-term arrest are not informed about their rights in detention. In spite of the amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure aiming at the implementation of the Directive, the prosecutor is still entitled to select from the documents of investigation and to attach only those files to the disclosed motion for pre-trial detention which are underlying the general and special conditions of pre-trial detention and to fail to attach those which would contradict the existence of the general or special conditions.
The deadline for the implementation of the Directive 2013/48/EU on the right of access to a lawyer is in November 2016, and the current Hungarian normative framework and practice indicate that there is a lot to do also in this respect. No legal provision exists which would guarantee the presence of a lawyer at each and every interrogation. In practice, it is frequent that the lawyer is not present due to the fact that no minimum term is prescribed for the investigative authorities to wait for the lawyer. The lawyer-client communication is hindered by the frequent practice of lawyers not being notified about the change of place of pre-trial detention, and the confidentiality of communication demands a stricter regulation.
The above mentioned problems and the similarities and differences given in the jurisdictions of participants from Croatia, Slovenia and the Netherlands related to the implementation of the Directives were thoroughly discussed by the close to 40 criminal lawyers who attended the training. The training was organized in the framework of the project “Practitioner Training on Roadmap Directives” managed by the Fair Trials. The HHC has participated in the project as a project partner contributing to the organization of the Budapest training held on 19-21 June 2015. The training encouraged the participating lawyers to use the Directives as legal tools in the courtroom in order to strengthen their arguments for the enforcement of the rights of defendants and fair trial guarantees.
The report of the Fair Trials about the training is available here. For those, who seek to gain expertise in the practical aspects of the implementation of the Directives and the relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice can find excellent online training courses of the Fair Trials here, and their relevant Practitioner Toolkits here.
The project is co-funded by the European Union.