The vulnerability of the juvenile suspect is greatest when being interrogated by investigative authorities in criminal proceedings. The vulnerable position of suspected or accused minors is recognised in several supranational instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and by the European Court of Human Rights. However, across the European Union there is direct need for harmonisation of rules and safeguards to strengthen the effective protection of these young suspects.
Maastricht University, in collaboration with its partners: Antwerp University, Defence for Children, Jagiellonian University, Macerata University, PLOT Limburg and Warwick University is currently carrying out a two year research project 'Protecting young suspects in interrogations', which aims to contribute to this harmonisation.
The goal of the project is to gain insight into existing legal procedural safeguards and practice, ultimately identifying best practices. The project team strives to draft proposals for EU wide minimum rules and safeguards – providing effective protection for young suspects during interrogation. It is hoped that the outcome of the project will ultimately influence (European) policy-makers and custodial workforces.
The research will be carried out in five European countries – Belgium, England and Wales, Italy, Poland and The Netherlands – and consists of three phases:
A six-month legal comparative study into supranational safeguards, national legal provisions per targeted country and transversal analysis – resulting in publication 1
A one-year empirical study, consisting of observations of (video)taped interrogations of juveniles and focus group interviews – resulting in transversal analysis of good practices
A six-month merging of legal and empirical results, establishing minimum rules recommendations and proposal for best practices – resulting in publication 2