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Expert Group on Strengthening Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2011
21 pages
This report from the U.N. Economic and Social Council presents the outcome of the expert group meeting on strengthening access to legal aid in criminal justice systems.
In November 2011, a group of experts met to draft and review principles and guidelines on strengthening access to legal aid in criminal justice systems around the world. The meeting was attended by 100 experts from 40 member states, along with representatives from additional U.N. offices and programs. This report presents the outcomes from this meeting of the expert group. The draft principles developed and reviewed at the meeting include 1) right to legal aid; 2) responsibilities of the state; 3) legal aid for persons suspected of or charged with a criminal offense; 4) legal aid for victims of crime; 5) legal aid for witnesses; 6) non-discrimination; 7) prompt and effective provision of legal aid; 8) right to be informed; 9) remedies and safeguards; 10) equity in access to legal aid; 11) legal aid in the best interests of the child; 12) independence and protection of legal aid providers; 13) competence and accountability of legal aid providers; and 14) partnerships. Guidelines in this report cover the following: provision of legal aid; right to be informed on legal aid; other rights of persons detained, arrested, suspected or accused of, or charged with a criminal offense; legal aid at the pretrial stage, during court proceedings, and at the post-trial stage; legal aid for victims and witnesses; implementation of the right of women to access legal aid; special measures for children; nationwide legal aid system; funding the nationwide legal aid system; human resources; paralegals, regulation and oversight of legal aid providers; partnerships with non-state legal aid service providers and universities; research and data; and technical assistance.