Over 80 members of the Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP) – the European network of criminal defence lawyers, academics, and NGO activists fighting to uphold the right to a fair trial in their national jurisdictions – coming from 26 countries of the EU will descend on Sofia to discuss a host of critical challenges in the fight to ensure that fundamental human rights are respected in European criminal justice systems and to plan how to overcome them. The LEAP network is coordinated by Fair Trials, the global criminal justice watchdog, and has been at the forefront of the development of EU law protecting the right to a fair trial. Critical issues to be discussed at the conference include:
threats to the basic rights to access a lawyer and to a trial;
the impact of security-related measures, including counter-terrorism legislation, on defence rights;
emerging negative trends in dispensing justice without a trial, including trial waivers, media trials, and pre-conviction confiscation.
On Saturday afternoon, LEAP members will come together and strategise about how to best respond to these emerging threats both at the regional and local levels.