Briefing Paper

Legal Tools: Right to Legal Aid

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Date
April 2013

This document is part of the Open Society Justice Initiative’s Arrest Rights Toolkit, a resource for criminal lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and police—all those who play a role in ensuring that the rights of people accused of crimes are respected. 

The Open Society Justice Initiative believes that litigation can be used to reinforce the fundamental human rights that underpin an open and just society.

In order to help lawyers working on human rights issues, we are developing a series of “template briefs,” which offer the legal framework for litigation that seeks to bring domestic justice systems and practice in line with international legal standards.

This template focuses on the right to legal aid for suspects and accused persons. It provides the current regional and international legal standards on the right to free, timely, and quality legal aid, which underpins equality of arms between the defense and prosecution, and is a foundation for other essential fair trial rights.  

The brief provides the current European and international legal standards, and we encourage lawyers to use the research and arguments in this brief to support domestic litigation.

The Justice Initiative has made every effort to ensure our information is accurate. However, this brief is provided for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. The way you use this brief will depend on the details of your case, your client’s situation, and specificities of your domestic legal framework.

This brief will be translated into Spanish, Turkish, German, French, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Hungarian. If you have any questions or feedback about the brief, would like a translated version of the brief in another language, or would like to keep the Justice Initiative informed about cases in your country that deal with access to legal assistance, please contact Marion Isobel at marion.isobel@opensocietyfoundations.org.

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