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Parliamentary questions
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28 July 2011
Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-006486/2011

The Commission is aware of Simone Righi's case.

The Commission's powers regarding acts and omissions of Member States are limited to overseeing the application of Union law, under the supervision of the European Court of Justice (cf. Article 17(1) TEU). With regard to fundamental rights issues (Articles 47, 48 and 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights), the Commission notes that, according to Article 51(1) of the Charter, the provisions of the Charter are addressed to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. On the basis of the information provided by the Honourable Members, it does not appear that in the matter referred to, the Member State concerned acted in the course of the implementation of EC law. Therefore, it is for the Member States alone to ensure that their obligations regarding fundamental rights — as resulting from international agreements and from internal legislation — are respected. Spain, like any other Member State, is bound to respect the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

The strengthening of the procedural rights of a person suspected or accused of having committed a crime is a top priority for the Commission. The Commission put forward a proposal on the right to information about rights and about charges in July 2010. It includes the obligation for Member States to provide all persons deprived of their liberty with a Letter of Rights, informing them of their rights. The proposal is in negotiation.

On 8 June 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive on access to a lawyer and on the right for detained persons to communicate with a person of their choice and with consular authorities. With this package of measures, the Commission intends to establish common minimum fair trial standards, drawing on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. Other proposal, e.g. on the defence rights of vulnerable persons and on legal aid will follow in 2012 and 2013.

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