This report explores and compares access to effective defence in criminal proceedings in Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine. It finds that people suspected or accused of crimes in the five countries are frequently unaware of their rights, and routinely prevented from mounting an effective defense.
Similar results were produced by an earlier 2010 study that covered nine European countries. The two studies together have identified the right to legal representation and legal aid as a recurring weak point in many criminal justice systems in Europe, and make detailed suggestions for setting overall EU standards on these issues.
The new study was based on a research project conducted under the framework of the Legal Aid Reformers Network (LARN) with financial support from the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program of the Open Society Foundations and implemented by the Soros Foundation–Moldova, in cooperation with Open Society Institute–Sofia, Open Society Georgia Foundation, International Renaissance Foundation–Ukraine, and the Open Society Justice Initiative.