Our Mission and Priorities


Both in the EU Member States and in other countries all over the world, civil and criminal justice systems face immense challenges in providing equal protection under the law, access to a fair legal process, adequate legal representation and information about legal rights and opportunities.

DAD objectives are to provide an enhanced institutional and policy capacity for a successful European integration process, especially in the area of justice and home affairs; to promote, support and monitor institutional reform to improve the transparency, fairness, accountability and efficiency of judicial systems by strengthening the rule of law and advancing human rights for all. Our aim is to foster policy development through interdisciplinary dialogue and partnership between public institutions, academia and social actors on key issues that will shape the future legal landscape.

We focus on developing innovative pathways to improve the quality of justice for vulnerable or marginalised groups, strengthening the voices of reform-minded prosecutors, and promoting greater understanding of the civil and criminal systems. We encourage collaboration among key justice stakeholders and support projects and organizations, promoting access to justice, human rights and the rule of law through legal and policy advocacy, empirical research and education, and piloting of effective practices.


Suspects and Accused in the EU




Around nine million people are the subject of criminal justice proceedings every year in the EU. At the same time, a significant share of those suspected or accused of criminal offences are not found guilty and are never convicted.

Despite the obligation of criminal justice authorities to strictly observe the presumption of innocence, suspects and accused are always subject to certain restrictions and consequences during the criminal proceedings, most of which affect their personal and social sphere. All of these restrictions (such as remand measures or restrainig orders) have their legitimate purpose sbut can have certain negative consequences for suspects and accused: loss of job or income, additional expenses, loss of social benefits, worsened relations with family and community, etc.

Defendants such as people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities are also exposed to a major level of vulnerability when they to come into sight of the law-enforcement and justice authorities, which might hinder their equal treatment.

Beyond its solemnity, justice remains after all an exercise, a system, a “voice”, carried out, crafted or built and expressed by humans with a correspondent level of fallibility. Be it for the defendant possibly involved in a crime or misdemeanour, the police officer arresting him/her, the lawyer trying to defend his/her rights, the public prosecutor building his/her culpability on grounds he/she retains reliable or the judge making its verdict by weaving the pros and cons and according to its own perceived rationale of the reconstructive criminal tale. 

Of course, justice should take its due course and impunity is not an option. However, all safeguards should be guaranteed to make sure rights of suspects and accused are fully respected and the criminal proceedings carried out against them are fair, also in the light of their specific condition, vulnerability or disability.