(CN) – Noting that just one-third of EU member states apprise new arrestees of their rights with a written letter, the confederation adopted a law Friday to change that.
The law will take effect roughly two years after its publication in the EU’s Official Journal, scheduled to occur sometime in May, according to the European Commission.
It requires the 27 member states to give a Letter of Rights to anyone arrested within their borders or subject to a European arrest warrant. There are approximately 8 million criminal proceedings every year in the EU, according to the commission.
The letter informs suspects, in their own language, of their right to counsel, to remain silent, to translation services, a speedy trial and other basic rights.
Right now, many member states offer such information orally and only when it is requested.
The European Commission says the new rule will reduce appeals and help ensure fair trials.
“At the moment, the chances that citizens will be properly informed of their rights if they are arrested and face criminal charges vary across the EU,” the commission said in a statement. “In some member states, suspects only receive oral information about their procedural rights, and in others the written information is not given unless requested.”