DigiRights Newsletter No. 1
Welcome to the first DigiRights project newsletter. In the coming months, we will be sending out regular newsletters with brief updates on the project and its outputs.
To kick off this first newsletter is the first in-person project meeting, which took place March 30th–31st, 2023, in Leuven, Belgium, where the project partners were hosted by our colleagues from the KU Leuven. After meeting virtually, this first in-person meeting was a wonderful opportunity to actually get to know each other, both professionally and in a more relaxed social environment. All of our project partner institutions had at least one person in attendance in Leuven, with those unable to meet in-person joining us online. We were also fortunate enough to be joined by members of our Steering Committee, as well as our Policy Officer from the European Commission.
Over a busy but fruitful 1.5 days, the project was given intensive discussion. We began with a reminder of the DigiRights project’s main ambition: to understand what digital applications of the core defence rights—e.g. the rights to interpretation, translation, legal assistance, be present at hearing or trial, etc.—look like. What rights, in other words, can be facilitated or applied digitally?
This was followed by presentations from each of our partners on the current “status quo” for digital rights in each of their respective domestic systems: Italy, Hungary, Germany, Estonia, Croatia, and Belgium. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the recent COVID-19 pandemic, all jurisdictions have (or at least had, during COVID) the possibility for some form of remote hearing. Beyond this commonality, there is less cohesion between the countries we intend to study with each displaying different degrees of digitalisation in their respective criminal justice processes.
In the second half of the meeting, we pivoted to discuss the future research goals of the project for the coming months. The main priority here being the empirical country studies, which we hope to begin as soon as possible. The goal of the empirical studies is to interview relevant legal actors (legal practitioners, judges, possibly defendants) to understand how the present digital rights applications work in practice, how successful (and how commonly used) these applications are, by what technical means, and how these digital rights applications are perceived by those who experience or bear witness to them.
To conclude the meeting, our website, https://www.digirights.net, was launched!
We look forward to our next in-person meeting, hosted by our Croatian colleagues in Zagreb, in October this year.
The DigiRights Project Team