Trial monitoring by consular officials

Consular assistance is a vital public service. For those outside their own country, detained hundreds of miles from home, unable to speak the local language, ignorant of the local legal system and with no idea of who to turn to for help, consular assistance provides a lifeline.

Fair Trials International, an organisation defending the rights of those facing charges abroad, has published new research funded by the Foundation into the provision of consular assistance to people facing criminal charges abroad.

Man in handcuffs

Researchers examined policy and practice in the US, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands and Germany.

Recommendations include:

  • Lists of lawyers provided to defe ndants should be reviewed annually. Consulates should exchange information on lawyers with non-governmental organisations.
  • Other Ministries should review their policy on trial attendance in light of the evidence from the US that mandatory trial attendance in certain circumstances does not necessarily put extra pressure on resources.
  • Data collection on trials attended should be more systematic and divided between data about the defendant and data about the trial. This information should be analysed to detect patterns.
  • Training should be broadened to address the actual challenges consular officials face and the role they perform when attending trials, in particular with respect to fair trial rights.
Project details



Fair Trials International

Funding programme

Law in Society

Grant amount and duration


October 2008 - July 2009



Consular Assistance and Trial Attendance, Katerina Mantouvalou, Fair Trials International, 2009

Download executive summary (PDF)

Download full report (PDF)