Criminal Justice

Early access to effective legal assistance for suspects and defendants is crucial for equal access to justice and for the enjoyment of other rights and procedural safeguards in criminal justice systems. This session explored the findings of studies in a range of countries about how far these countries have come and have yet to go in securing certain rights for criminal suspects. It also showcased an innovative model implemented in Ukraine that has reformed the custody intake procedure for the benefit of all. In this reform, the Legal Aid Foundation developed a streamlined and easy to use Custody Records system, instructions on avoiding human rights abuses, and created a prestigious position for a custody office to oversee the system. This system helped to track suspects in detention electronically at every stage in the process, much like tracking a package going through the postal service. Throughout the session, speakers and participants discussed the importance of cultural change along with policy proposals to address the problem of abuses in police custody. This includes preventing perverse incentives that would motivate police to abuse suspects into confessions, but also to empower individuals to advocate for their rights while in custody. It is also important to make police officers feel that protecting human rights is part of their work as well, rather than fighting crime at all costs.   

Read the full summary for this working session. 

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