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Working with NGOs key to advancing defendants' rights in Europe


Working with NGOs and criminal law practitioners provides a unique scope for academic input into policy making at the national and European level, and an invaluable tool for ensuring a better symbiosis between criminal law theory and practice", commented Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, College Associate Dean and founder of the Brunel-based Britain in Europe think tank, after a Fair Trials international workshop that was hosted at Brunel on April 15-17.

The conference brought to Brunel Law School more than 40 criminal law experts from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and the UK, for three days of intensive training on making the EU Directives work in practice. The training was provided by Fair Trials experts, including their Chief Executive, Mr Jago Russel.

Dr Giannoulopoulos added: "The new EU Directives on procedural rights and case law from the European Court of Human Rights can act as a driving force for reform, in areas where national jurisdictions have long resisted change, very often as a result of sheer historical antipathy to recognising a more important role for lawyers at the police station. Working with NGOs such as Fair Trials is key to unlocking the potential of this legislation and case law, to ensure the protection of people suspected of the commission of criminal offences all over Europe".

Dr Giannoulopoulos has established a close working relationship with Fair Trials in recent months, including through representing the UK and Greece in LEAP (Legal Experts Advisory Panel) working meetings and advocacy activities (LEAP is a Fair Trials-coordinated EU-wide network of experts in criminal justice and human rights), such as contributing to a third party NGO submission to a case before the Russian Supreme Court, and through providing comparative criminal justice training on behalf of Fair Trials (more recently, to lawyers from Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Italy, in an EU Directives workshop in Athens, March 4-6).​