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Criminal law


The European Commission wishes to make material available which will be helpful both to legal practitioners for their own use and to trainers of legal practitioners as a resource for their work. This subsection of the European e-Justice Portal is dedicated to the field of criminal law, including judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Information about current and future European legislation in criminal matters can be found on the Link opens in new windowJustice pages of the Commission's website.


EU criminal justice

Principle of mutual recognition

Victims' rights

Restorative justice

Language training

Legal interpretation in criminal proceedings

EU criminal justice

European criminal justice training guidelines, (European Judicial Training Network – EJTN)

The European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) has developed guidelines for training in the field of criminal justice, which are aimed at trainers. These are regularly updated and assess the main areas relevant for judicial training in this field. They list the potential topics and the relevant documents and case-law relating to each, and also give recommendations as to appropriate trainer and trainee profiles in each area, and suggest suitable training methods. The guidelines are available in Link opens in new windowEnglish.

Ready-to-use training material on EU criminal justice matters

The training materials cover eight different areas of EU criminal law and are aimed at judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers, as well as other legal practitioners. It is envisaged that they will be primarily accessed by trainers, but legal practitioners can of course make use of the materials themselves. The material provides information on the legislation in force regarding judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the national application of existing EU instruments and the directions in which EU criminal justice is moving.

The trainer's notes and the training material for each of the seminars are available here (mostly in English):

Title of seminar

Trainer's notes

Training material

The changes brought by the Lisbon Treaty to judicial cooperation in criminal matters: Special focus on the new powers of the institutions and the competence of relevant EU agencies

ENWord(379 Kb)en, FRWord(382 Kb)fr

Link opens in new windowSeminar 1

15-16/12/2011

The pre-Lisbon instruments: Special focus on the European Arrest Warrant

ENPDF(49 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSéminar 2

15-16/02/2012

Collecting evidence through the EU: Joint Investigation Teams

ENPDF(48 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSeminar 3

28-29/03/2013

Collecting evidence through the EU: The European Evidence Warrant and new instruments in the field

ENPDF(49 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSeminar 4

13-14/06/2013

Asset recovery within the European Union: Council Framework Decisions of 2003, 2005 and 2006 and new developments in this area

ENPDF(48 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSeminar 5

24-25/10/2012

Procedural rights of suspected and accused persons

ENPDF(49 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSeminar 6

12-13/12/2012

Cooperation in criminal matters in the European Union: judicial response to terrorism

ENPDF(52 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSeminar 7

6-7/02/2013

EU substantive criminal law

ENPDF(46 Kb)en

Link opens in new windowSeminar 8

17-18/04/2013

These seminars were developed by the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) under a Framework Partnership Agreement with the European Commission in 2011-13, during which period eight training activities were delivered in eight EU Member States.

EU Procedural Rights for defence lawyers

The following toolkits have been produced by Fair Trials and the Legal Expert Advisory Panel, providing a guide for criminal lawyers to use Procedural Rights Directives.

Toolkit: Using EU Law in Criminal Practice

Toolkit: Right to Information in Criminal Proceedings Directive

Toolkit: Interpretation and Translation Directive

Toolkit: Access to a Lawyer Directive

Principle of mutual recognition

Handbook for judges, prosecutors and other competent authorities on how to issue and execute a request for a freezing order (European Commission)

This handbook is designed to help judges, prosecutors and other competent authorities with the issuing and executing of a request for the enforcement of a freezing order on the basis of the Council Framework Decision 2003/577/JHA of 22 July 2003 on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property or evidence. The aim of the handbook is to provide guidelines for the adoption of good practice in the light of experience while also supplying the competent judges and prosecutors responsible with specific information on how the freezing order forms should be filled in. You can find the handbook herePDF(4413 Kb)en.

Victims’ rights

Handbook on justice for victims: on the use and application of the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC)

The handbook on justice for victims is designed by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as a tool for implementing victim support programmes and for developing victim-sensitive policies, procedures and protocols for criminal justice agencies and others who come into contact with victims. It outlines the basic steps in developing comprehensive support services for victims of crime, such as crisis or long-term counselling, compensation, accompaniment to court and other advocacy services. It has been drafted in the knowledge that differences will arise when its principles are applied in the context of different legal systems, social support structures and life situations. Not everything outlined in the handbook will necessarily be appropriate or even possible in every situation. The handbook is therefore not intended to be prescriptive but to serve as a set of examples for jurisdictions to examine and test. Since the materials presented in the handbook are aimed at a number of different audiences, individual users may find some sections of more relevance and interest than others. The handbook is available in Link opens in new windowEnglish.

Training manual on protecting children’s rights in criminal justice systems (Penal Reform International)

Protecting Children’s Rights in Criminal Justice Systems: A training manual aims to provide a comprehensive reference guide for those working in a range of professions or agencies within the criminal justice system. The training module is aimed at professionals and stakeholders who are involved in training as part of their jobs and is intended to help them to effectively teach the principles outlined in the manual using experience-based training methodology.

The manual addresses the issues of children in contravention of the law and child victims and witnesses. It also looks at responding to children who may be at risk of coming under criminal justice systems. The manual covers a variety of topics and issues including child protection, crime prevention, law enforcement, trial procedures, sentencing and rehabilitation.

The manual has been developed by Penal Reform International and is available in Link opens in new windowEnglish.

Restorative justice

Handbook on restorative justice programmes and companion handbook of basic principles and promising practices on alternatives to imprisonment (UNODC)

The handbook on restorative justice programmes introduces the reader to restorative justice programmes and processes. It offers an overview of key considerations in the implementation of participatory responses to crime based on a restorative justice approach. It was prepared in particular for the use by criminal justice officials, but the materials are directed towards a number of different audiences and individual users may therefore find some sections of more relevance and interest than others. This handbook is one of a series of practical tools developed by UNODC. It is available in Link opens in new windowEnglish and in Link opens in new windowFrench.

A companion handbook of basic principles and promising practices on alternatives to imprisonment is also available from UNODC. This handbook presents the basic principles central to understanding alternatives to imprisonment as well as descriptions of practices in various parts of the world which are considered to have potential. It provides information about alternatives to imprisonment at every stage of the criminal justice process and about the issues to be considered when implementing them, including what various parties involved in the process must do to ensure its success, together with examples of systems that have reduced the use of imprisonment. This handbook is available in Link opens in new windowEnglish, Link opens in new windowFrench and Link opens in new windowSpanish.

Language training

Handbook on language training in the vocabulary of judicial cooperation in criminal matters (European Judicial Training Network – EJTN)

This handbook on language training in the vocabulary of judicial cooperation in criminal matters is a compilation of the most relevant training materials used during a series of seven seminars organised by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) on the topic in 2011 and 2012; it is aimed at any judge or public prosecutor wishing to develop his or her linguistic skills in this area. The handbook is available both in English and French Link opens in new windowhere, as are with general preparatory legal documents and language materials for seminars.

Legal interpretation in criminal proceedings

Web-based training videos on working with legal interpreters in criminal proceedings (Building Mutual Trust 2 project)

The effective and proper use of trained legal interpreters in European criminal cases will improve outcomes for suspects and defendants and for judicial staff at all levels. A set of audio-visual training materials on practices for working with legal interpreters in a range of settings was created for the benefit of judges, prosecutors and other legal practitioners involved in judicial proceedings where interpreters are needed. The videos are designed to be user-friendly and accessible to non-linguists. They can either be used by trainers as a teaching aid or by practitioners learning independently.

In the context of the Link opens in new window2010/64/EU Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, the Building Mutual Trust 2 project has produced five web-based training videos to illustrate the communication processes and management strategies required for effective communication through an interpreter. The videos (of an interpreted police interview, a legal consultation and a court hearing) indicate good practices and potential pitfalls in working with interpreters, in a user-friendly format. The project was supported financially by the EU.

The five videos are available on the Link opens in new windowproject's website in English, with subtitles in English, Polish, Romanian or Spanish.

Related links

Link opens in new windowEuropean Criminal Law Academic Network (ECLAN)

Link opens in new windowEuropean Judicial Training Network (EJTN)


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Last update: 24/08/2016