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Directive (EU) 2016/800 of the European Parliament and of the CouncilShow full title

Directive (EU) 2016/800 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings

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Article 1Subject matter

This Directive lays down common minimum rules concerning certain rights of children who are:

(a)

suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings; or

(b)

subject to European arrest warrant proceedings pursuant to Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA (requested persons).

Article 2Scope

1.This Directive applies to children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings. It applies until the final determination of the question whether the suspect or accused person has committed a criminal offence, including, where applicable, sentencing and the resolution of any appeal.

2.This Directive applies to children who are requested persons from the time of their arrest in the executing Member State, in accordance with Article 17.

3.With the exception of Article 5, point (b) of Article 8(3), and Article 15, insofar as those provisions refer to a holder of parental responsibility, this Directive, or certain provisions thereof, applies to persons as referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, where such persons were children when they became subject to the proceedings but have subsequently reached the age of 18, and the application of this Directive, or certain provisions thereof, is appropriate in the light of all the circumstances of the case, including the maturity and vulnerability of the person concerned. Member States may decide not to apply this Directive when the person concerned has reached the age of 21.

4.This Directive applies to children who were not initially suspects or accused persons but become suspects or accused persons in the course of questioning by the police or by another law enforcement authority.

5.This Directive does not affect national rules determining the age of criminal responsibility.

6.Without prejudice to the right to a fair trial, in respect of minor offences:

(a)

where the law of a Member State provides for the imposition of a sanction by an authority other than a court having jurisdiction in criminal matters, and the imposition of such a sanction may be appealed or referred to such a court; or

(b)

where deprivation of liberty cannot be imposed as a sanction,

this Directive shall only apply to the proceedings before a court having jurisdiction in criminal matters.

In any event, this Directive shall fully apply where the child is deprived of liberty, irrespective of the stage of the criminal proceedings.

Article 3Definitions

For the purposes of this Directive the following definitions apply:

(1)

‘child’ means a person below the age of 18;

(2)

‘holder of parental responsibility’ means any person having parental responsibility over a child;

(3)

‘parental responsibility’ means all rights and duties relating to the person or the property of a child which are given to a natural or legal person by judgment, by operation of law or by an agreement having legal effects, including rights of custody and rights of access.

With regard to point (1) of the first paragraph, where it is uncertain whether a person has reached the age of 18, that person shall be presumed to be a child.

Article 4Right to information

1.Member States shall ensure that when children are made aware that they are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings, they are informed promptly about their rights in accordance with Directive 2012/13/EU and about general aspects of the conduct of the proceedings.

Member States shall also ensure that children are informed about the rights set out in this Directive. That information shall be provided as follows:

(a)

promptly when children are made aware that they are suspects or accused persons, in respect of:

(i)

the right to have the holder of parental responsibility informed, as provided for in Article 5;

(ii)

the right to be assisted by a lawyer, as provided for in Article 6;

(iii)

the right to protection of privacy, as provided for in Article 14;

(iv)

the right to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility during stages of the proceedings other than court hearings, as provided for in Article 15(4);

(v)

the right to legal aid, as provided for in Article 18;

(b)

at the earliest appropriate stage in the proceedings, in respect of:

(i)

the right to an individual assessment, as provided for in Article 7;

(ii)

the right to a medical examination, including the right to medical assistance, as provided for in Article 8;

(iii)

the right to limitation of deprivation of liberty and to the use of alternative measures, including the right to periodic review of detention, as provided for in Articles 10 and 11;

(iv)

the right to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility during court hearings, as provided for in Article 15(1);

(v)

the right to appear in person at trial, as provided for in Article 16;

(vi)

the right to effective remedies, as provided for in Article 19;

(c)

upon deprivation of liberty in respect of the right to specific treatment during deprivation of liberty, as provided for in Article 12.

2.Member States shall ensure that the information referred to in paragraph 1 is given in writing, orally, or both, in simple and accessible language, and that the information given is noted, using the recording procedure in accordance with national law.

3.Where children are provided with a Letter of Rights pursuant to Directive 2012/13/EU, Member States shall ensure that such a Letter includes a reference to their rights under this Directive.

Article 5Right of the child to have the holder of parental responsibility informed

1.Member States shall ensure that the holder of parental responsibility is provided, as soon as possible, with the information that the child has a right to receive in accordance with Article 4.

2.The information referred to in paragraph 1 shall be provided to another appropriate adult who is nominated by the child and accepted as such by the competent authority where providing that information to the holder of parental responsibility:

(a)

would be contrary to the child's best interests;

(b)

is not possible because, after reasonable efforts have been made, no holder of parental responsibility can be reached or his or her identity is unknown;

(c)

could, on the basis of objective and factual circumstances, substantially jeopardise the criminal proceedings.

Where the child has not nominated another appropriate adult, or where the adult that has been nominated by the child is not acceptable to the competent authority, the competent authority shall, taking into account the child's best interests, designate, and provide the information to, another person. That person may also be the representative of an authority or of another institution responsible for the protection or welfare of children.

3.Where the circumstances which led to the application of point (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph 2 cease to exist, any information that the child receives in accordance with Article 4, and which remains relevant in the course of the proceedings, shall be provided to the holder of parental responsibility.

Article 6Assistance by a lawyer

1.Children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings have the right of access to a lawyer in accordance with Directive 2013/48/EU. Nothing in this Directive, in particular in this Article, shall affect that right.

2.Member States shall ensure that children are assisted by a lawyer in accordance with this Article in order to allow them to exercise the rights of the defence effectively.

3.Member States shall ensure that children are assisted by a lawyer without undue delay once they are made aware that they are suspects or accused persons. In any event, children shall be assisted by a lawyer from whichever of the following points in time is the earliest:

(a)

before they are questioned by the police or by another law enforcement or judicial authority;

(b)

upon the carrying out by investigating or other competent authorities of an investigative or other evidence-gathering act in accordance with point (c) of paragraph 4;

(c)

without undue delay after deprivation of liberty;

(d)

where they have been summoned to appear before a court having jurisdiction in criminal matters, in due time before they appear before that court.

4.Assistance by a lawyer shall include the following:

(a)

Member States shall ensure that children have the right to meet in private and communicate with the lawyer representing them, including prior to questioning by the police or by another law enforcement or judicial authority;

(b)

Member States shall ensure that children are assisted by a lawyer when they are questioned, and that the lawyer is able to participate effectively during questioning. Such participation shall be conducted in accordance with procedures under national law, provided that such procedures do not prejudice the effective exercise or essence of the right concerned. Where a lawyer participates during questioning, the fact that such participation has taken place shall be noted using the recording procedure under national law;

(c)

Member States shall ensure that children are, as a minimum, assisted by a lawyer during the following investigative or evidence-gathering acts, where those acts are provided for under national law and if the suspect or accused person is required or permitted to attend the act concerned:

(i)

identity parades;

(ii)

confrontations;

(iii)

reconstructions of the scene of a crime.

5.Member States shall respect the confidentiality of communication between children and their lawyer in the exercise of the right to be assisted by a lawyer provided for under this Directive. Such communication shall include meetings, correspondence, telephone conversations and other forms of communication permitted under national law.

6.Provided that this complies with the right to a fair trial, Member States may derogate from paragraph 3 where assistance by a lawyer is not proportionate in the light of the circumstances of the case, taking into account the seriousness of the alleged criminal offence, the complexity of the case and the measures that could be taken in respect of such an offence, it being understood that the child's best interests shall always be a primary consideration.

In any event, Member States shall ensure that children are assisted by a lawyer:

(a)

when they are brought before a competent court or judge in order to decide on detention at any stage of the proceedings within the scope of this Directive; and

(b)

during detention.

Member States shall also ensure that deprivation of liberty is not imposed as a criminal sentence, unless the child has been assisted by a lawyer in such a way as to allow the child to exercise the rights of the defence effectively and, in any event, during the trial hearings before a court.

7.Where the child is to be assisted by a lawyer in accordance with this Article but no lawyer is present, the competent authorities shall postpone the questioning of the child, or other investigative or evidence-gathering acts provided for in point (c) of paragraph 4, for a reasonable period of time in order to allow for the arrival of the lawyer or, where the child has not nominated a lawyer, to arrange a lawyer for the child.

8.In exceptional circumstances, and only at the pre-trial stage, Member States may temporarily derogate from the application of the rights provided for in paragraph 3 to the extent justified in the light of the particular circumstances of the case, on the basis of one of the following compelling reasons:

(a)

where there is an urgent need to avert serious adverse consequences for the life, liberty or physical integrity of a person;

(b)

where immediate action by the investigating authorities is imperative to prevent substantial jeopardy to criminal proceedings in relation to a serious criminal offence.

Member States shall ensure that the competent authorities, when applying this paragraph, shall take the child's best interests into account.

A decision to proceed to questioning in the absence of the lawyer under this paragraph may be taken only on a case-by-case basis, either by a judicial authority, or by another competent authority on condition that the decision can be submitted to judicial review.

Article 7Right to an individual assessment

1.Member States shall ensure that the specific needs of children concerning protection, education, training and social integration are taken into account.

2.For that purpose children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings shall be individually assessed. The individual assessment shall, in particular, take into account the child's personality and maturity, the child's economic, social and family background, and any specific vulnerabilities that the child may have.

3.The extent and detail of the individual assessment may vary depending on the circumstances of the case, the measures that can be taken if the child is found guilty of the alleged criminal offence, and whether the child has, in the recent past, been the subject of an individual assessment.

4.The individual assessment shall serve to establish and to note, in accordance with the recording procedure in the Member State concerned, such information about the individual characteristics and circumstances of the child as might be of use to the competent authorities when:

(a)

determining whether any specific measure to the benefit of the child is to be taken;

(b)

assessing the appropriateness and effectiveness of any precautionary measures in respect of the child;

(c)

taking any decision or course of action in the criminal proceedings, including when sentencing.

5.The individual assessment shall be carried out at the earliest appropriate stage of the proceedings and, subject to paragraph 6, before indictment.

6.In the absence of an individual assessment, an indictment may nevertheless be presented provided that this is in the child's best interests and that the individual assessment is in any event available at the beginning of the trial hearings before a court.

7.Individual assessments shall be carried out with the close involvement of the child. They shall be carried out by qualified personnel, following, as far as possible, a multidisciplinary approach and involving, where appropriate, the holder of parental responsibility, or another appropriate adult as referred to in Articles 5 and 15, and/or a specialised professional.

8.If the elements that form the basis of the individual assessment change significantly, Member States shall ensure that the individual assessment is updated throughout the criminal proceedings.

9.Member States may derogate from the obligation to carry out an individual assessment where such a derogation is warranted in the circumstances of the case, provided that it is compatible with the child's best interests.

Article 8Right to a medical examination

1.Member States shall ensure that children who are deprived of liberty have the right to a medical examination without undue delay with a view, in particular, to assessing their general mental and physical condition. The medical examination shall be as non-invasive as possible and shall be carried out by a physician or another qualified professional.

2.The results of the medical examination shall be taken into account when determining the capacity of the child to be subject to questioning, other investigative or evidence-gathering acts, or any measures taken or envisaged against the child.

3.The medical examination shall be carried out either on the initiative of the competent authorities, in particular where specific health indications call for such an examination, or on a request by any of the following:

(a)

the child;

(b)

the holder of parental responsibility, or another appropriate adult as referred to in Articles 5 and 15;

(c)

the child's lawyer.

4.The conclusion of the medical examination shall be recorded in writing. Where required, medical assistance shall be provided.

5.Member States shall ensure that another medical examination is carried out where the circumstances so require.

Article 9Audiovisual recording of questioning

1.Member States shall ensure that questioning of children by police or other law enforcement authorities during the criminal proceedings is audio-visually recorded where this is proportionate in the circumstances of the case, taking into account, inter alia, whether a lawyer is present or not and whether the child is deprived of liberty or not, provided that the child's best interests are always a primary consideration.

2.In the absence of audiovisual recording, questioning shall be recorded in another appropriate manner, such as by written minutes which are duly verified.

3.This Article shall be without prejudice to the possibility to ask questions for the sole purpose of the identification of the child without audiovisual recording.

Article 10Limitation of deprivation of liberty

1.Member States shall ensure that deprivation of liberty of a child at any stage of the proceedings is limited to the shortest appropriate period of time. Due account shall be taken of the age and individual situation of the child, and of the particular circumstances of the case.

2.Member States shall ensure that deprivation of liberty, in particular detention, shall be imposed on children only as a measure of last resort. Member States shall ensure that any detention is based on a reasoned decision, subject to judicial review by a court. Such a decision shall also be subject to periodic review, at reasonable intervals of time, by a court, either ex officio or at the request of the child, of the child's lawyer, or of a judicial authority which is not a court. Without prejudice to judicial independence, Member States shall ensure that decisions to be taken pursuant to this paragraph are taken without undue delay.

Article 11Alternative measures

Member States shall ensure that, where possible, the competent authorities have recourse to measures alternative to detention (alternative measures).

Article 12Specific treatment in the case of deprivation of liberty

1.Member States shall ensure that children who are detained are held separately from adults, unless it is considered to be in the child's best interests not to do so.

2.Member States shall also ensure that children who are kept in police custody are held separately from adults, unless:

(a)

it is considered to be in the child's best interests not to do so; or

(b)

in exceptional circumstances, it is not possible in practice to do so, provided that children are held together with adults in a manner that is compatible with the child's best interests.

3.Without prejudice to paragraph 1, when a detained child reaches the age of 18, Member States shall provide for the possibility to continue to hold that person separately from other detained adults where warranted, taking into account the circumstances of the person concerned, provided that this is compatible with the best interests of children who are detained with that person.

4.Without prejudice to paragraph 1, and taking into account paragraph 3, children may be detained with young adults, unless this is contrary to the child's best interests.

5.When children are detained, Member States shall take appropriate measures to:

(a)

ensure and preserve their health and their physical and mental development;

(b)

ensure their right to education and training, including where the children have physical, sensory or learning disabilities;

(c)

ensure the effective and regular exercise of their right to family life;

(d)

ensure access to programmes that foster their development and their reintegration into society; and

(e)

ensure respect for their freedom of religion or belief.

The measures taken pursuant to this paragraph shall be proportionate and appropriate to the duration of the detention.

Points (a) and (e) of the first subparagraph shall also apply to situations of deprivation of liberty other than detention. The measures taken shall be proportionate and appropriate to such situations of deprivation of liberty.

Points (b), (c), and (d) of the first subparagraph shall apply to situations of deprivation of liberty other than detention only to the extent that is appropriate and proportionate in the light of the nature and duration of such situations.

6.Member States shall endeavour to ensure that children who are deprived of liberty can meet with the holder of parental responsibility as soon as possible, where such a meeting is compatible with investigative and operational requirements. This paragraph shall be without prejudice to the nomination or designation of another appropriate adult pursuant to Article 5 or 15.

Article 13Timely and diligent treatment of cases

1.Member States shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that criminal proceedings involving children are treated as a matter of urgency and with due diligence.

2.Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that children are always treated in a manner which protects their dignity and which is appropriate to their age, maturity and level of understanding, and which takes into account any special needs, including any communication difficulties, that they may have.

Article 14Right to protection of privacy

1.Member States shall ensure that the privacy of children during criminal proceedings is protected.

2.To that end, Member States shall either provide that court hearings involving children are usually held in the absence of the public, or allow courts or judges to decide to hold such hearings in the absence of the public.

3.Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that the records referred to in Article 9 are not publicly disseminated.

4.Member States shall, while respecting freedom of expression and information, and freedom and pluralism of the media, encourage the media to take self-regulatory measures in order to achieve the objectives set out in this Article.

Article 15Right of the child to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility during the proceedings

1.Member States shall ensure that children have the right to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility during court hearings in which they are involved.

2.A child shall have the right to be accompanied by another appropriate adult who is nominated by the child and accepted as such by the competent authority where the presence of the holder of parental responsibility accompanying the child during court hearings:

(a)

would be contrary to the child's best interests;

(b)

is not possible because, after reasonable efforts have been made, no holder of parental responsibility can be reached or his or her identity is unknown; or

(c)

would, on the basis of objective and factual circumstances, substantially jeopardise the criminal proceedings.

Where the child has not nominated another appropriate adult, or where the adult that has been nominated by the child is not acceptable to the competent authority, the competent authority shall, taking into account the child's best interests, designate another person to accompany the child. That person may also be the representative of an authority or of another institution responsible for the protection or welfare of children.

3.Where the circumstances which led to an application of point (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph 2 cease to exist, the child shall have the right to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility during any remaining court hearings.

4.In addition to the right provided for under paragraph 1, Member States shall ensure that children have the right to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility, or by another appropriate adult as referred to in paragraph 2, during stages of the proceedings other than court hearings at which the child is present where the competent authority considers that:

(a)

it is in the child's best interests to be accompanied by that person; and

(b)

the presence of that person will not prejudice the criminal proceedings.

Article 16Right of children to appear in person at, and participate in, their trial

1.Member States shall ensure that children have the right to be present at their trial and shall take all necessary measures to enable them to participate effectively in the trial, including by giving them the opportunity to be heard and to express their views.

2.Member States shall ensure that children who were not present at their trial have the right to a new trial or to another legal remedy, in accordance with, and under the conditions set out in, Directive (EU) 2016/343.

Article 17European arrest warrant proceedings

Member States shall ensure that the rights referred to in Articles 4, 5, 6 and 8, Articles 10 to 15 and Article 18 apply mutatis mutandis, in respect of children who are requested persons, upon their arrest pursuant to European arrest warrant proceedings in the executing Member State.

Article 18Right to legal aid

Member States shall ensure that national law in relation to legal aid guarantees the effective exercise of the right to be assisted by a lawyer pursuant to Article 6.

Article 19Remedies

Member States shall ensure that children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings and children who are requested persons have an effective remedy under national law in the event of a breach of their rights under this Directive.

Article 20Training

1.Member States shall ensure that staff of law enforcement authorities and of detention facilities who handle cases involving children, receive specific training to a level appropriate to their contact with children with regard to children's rights, appropriate questioning techniques, child psychology, and communication in a language adapted to the child.

2.Without prejudice to judicial independence and differences in the organisation of the judiciary across the Member States, and with due respect for the role of those responsible for the training of judges and prosecutors, Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that judges and prosecutors who deal with criminal proceedings involving children have specific competence in that field, effective access to specific training, or both.

3.With due respect for the independence of the legal profession and for the role of those responsible for the training of lawyers, Member States shall take appropriate measures to promote the provision of specific training as referred to in paragraph 2 to lawyers who deal with criminal proceedings involving children.

4.Through their public services or by funding child support organisations, Member States shall encourage initiatives enabling those providing children with support and restorative justice services to receive adequate training to a level appropriate to their contact with children and observe professional standards to ensure such services are provided in an impartial, respectful and professional manner.

Article 21Data collection

Member States shall by 11 June 2021 and every three years thereafter, send to the Commission available data showing how the rights set out in this Directive have been implemented.

Article 22Costs

Member States shall meet the costs resulting from the application of Articles 7, 8 and 9 irrespective of the outcome of the proceedings, unless, as regards the costs resulting from the application of Article 8, they are covered by medical insurance.

Article 23Non-regression

Nothing in this Directive shall be construed as limiting or derogating from any of the rights and procedural safeguards that are ensured under the Charter, the ECHR, or other relevant provisions of international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, or the law of any Member State which provides a higher level of protection.

Article 24Transposition

1.Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 11 June 2019. They shall immediately inform the Commission thereof.

When Member States adopt those measures, they shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such a reference on the occasion of their official publication. The methods of making such a reference shall be laid down by the Member States.

2.Member States shall communicate to the Commission the text of the measures of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Article 25Report

The Commission shall, by 11 June 2022, submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council assessing the extent to which the Member States have taken the necessary measures to comply with this Directive, including an evaluation of the application of Article 6, accompanied, if necessary, by legislative proposals.

Article 26Entry into force

This Directive shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Article 27Addressees

This Directive is addressed to the Member States in accordance with the Treaties.

Done at Strasbourg, 11 May 2016.

For the European Parliament

The President

M. Schulz

For the Council

The President

J.A. Hennis-Plasschaert

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