The Directive has been adopted and published on 21 May 2016.

It sets out specific minimum rules concerning the rights of suspected or accused children in criminal proceedings to ensure that they are able to understand and follow criminal proceedings, including having access to a lawyer at all stages. It provides that children cannot waive their right to be assisted by a lawyer in key moments of the proceedings, as there is a high risk that they would not understand the consequence of their actions (Article 6).

Other safeguards covered are the right to being promptly informed of their rights, having the holder of parental responsibility (or other appropriate persons) informed, and receiving medical examination if deprived of liberty (Art. 4, 5, and 8).

Children have been defined by the Directive has any persons below the age of 18 (Article 3 (1)). Other categories of vulnerable suspects have not been covered by the Directive.

On this point, see our reply on the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, 6 May 2014 and our ECBA Statement with recommendations to the Commission on Measure E of the Stockholm programme for the appropriate rights and treatment of vulnerable Suspects of 15 May 2013.