EU mulls safeguards for defendants

The idea has been flagged up by the European Commission, which has published a new Green Paper on procedural safeguards for suspects in criminal proceedings.

Brussels is concerned that a failure to erect such a safety net would scupper attempts to build cooperation between Europe's judicial systems, especially when Eastern European countries join the EU from 2005.

As a result, its paper suggests common rules could be agreed on; access to legal representation, both before and at trial; access to interpretation and translation; proper protection for vulnerable suspects and defendants; consular assistance to foreign detainees; and the notification of rights to suspects and defendants.

Comments are required by 15 May.