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The UK, for one, has a program which is probably a sort of remnant of its past EU membership where the government provides legal aid in European countries, (incl. EU, EEA and other countries) including paying for a legal representative if one is accused of a crime. For example, if a UK citizen is accused in Ukraine, they can be paid for a lawyer there. (See: Legal Aid — Legal problems abroad)

I found that the EU has a program with similar geographic scope; however, it relates only to its own jurisdiction except for Denmark — applications can be filled out in a form. (See Form of Legal Aid Application in another Member State of the European Union)

Is there a program of the EU that functions in a similar fashion outside of its jurisdiction or in 3rd countries?

Specifically, can an EU citizen, within EU protocol or as a matter of EU law, apply for or request an attorney to represent them if accused of a crime? If so, through what procedures and based on what law?

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In many cases, an EU citizen in a foreign country facing legal difficulties, for example, a French citizen in Indonesia, would receive legal assistance arranged by diplomats from the government of their citizenship (e.g. by French diplomats in this example), rather than by the E.U.

The E.U. itself would be unlikely to get involved unless the country of the E.U. citizen's nationality didn't have any diplomats in the country or didn't have anyone with the resources to do something about it on hand, in an E.U. nation to E.U. nation favor.

The scope and nature of that assistance would be highly fact specific and would be a discretionary determination of the responsible ambassador or consular official handling the matter. If the situation the citizen of that diplomat's country is placed in seems very unfair (and perhaps likely to recur with other citizens of that country), the support might be very robust. If the situation is routine and fair and the citizen of the diplomat's country is able to look out for himself or herself, diplomatic support might be trivial.

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  • thank you very much! This affirms that, as a matter of right, something like this is inexistent, and no protocol is in place. – kisspuska Jun 26 at 0:45
  • @kisspuska There may be a protocol in place. It isn't individually enforceable by the foreigner abroad, i.e. basically isn't binding. – ohwilleke Jun 28 at 23:45
  • ohwilleke — true, true. Do you know of any examples for reference where something like this happened? – kisspuska Jun 29 at 0:22
  • @kisspuska I've seen a number of accounts over the years, mostly in news accounts, human rights reports, and death penalty case legal opinions, but it would take a fair amount of time to get a citable reference. – ohwilleke Jun 29 at 1:38
  • @@ohwilleke thank you, I found this in the mean time: probably the closest cases listed: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – kisspuska Jun 29 at 4:23
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Other than the most exceptional cases, no...

As a citizen (of any country), you are entitled to consular support but that does not extend to your country hiring a lawyer for you or representing you in court. It covers such things as facilitating communication with your family, attempting to ensure the trial is fair and repatriation at the end of your sentence - usually with you paying for your own transport. In exceptional cases, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that secretaries, ministers or their respective departments of foreign affairs get involved one may receive a representative.

…but

Citizenship is irrelevant to have the right to representation. In most liberal democracies, you are entitled to legal representation, in most autocratic dictatorships, you aren't, and there are a large number of steps in between.

How this works depends on local law and custom but it usually works the same for citizens and non-citizens. In most jurisdictions you find, hire and pay for your own lawyer.

Some jurisdictions may provide a lawyer for you without payment by you. How this works varies. For example, if you are accused of a crime in the you are entitled to a lawyer that you pay for or, if you can't afford one, the state will provide one for you. In , this extends to civil and administrative matters as well subject to a means test, however, you are not entitled to free legal representation even if you are destitute - you are entitled to a fair trial which, depending on the circumstances, may mean the state pays for a lawyer. In the state appoints a lawyer for you and you are not entitled to another - defendants rarely win in China. Each country may or may not make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens: the three above don't.

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    I recognized that the question was left somewhat ambiguous. Even though I point at whether there is an EU program that makes this possible for its citizens abroad, the title question and the list question suggest else. Thank you for the answer! – kisspuska Jun 23 at 14:29
  • Regarding the U.S., defendants rarely win if the state or the federal government appoints a lawyer to them. – kisspuska Jun 23 at 14:36
  • @@Dale M In all honesty, based on your reply, the answer, really, is no... :/ This seems to be what directly addresses it. "As a citizen (of any country), you are entitled to consular support but that does not extend to your country hiring a lawyer for you or representing you in court. It covers such things as facilitating communication with your family, attempting to ensure the trial is fair and repatriation at the end of your sentence - usually with you paying for your own transport." – kisspuska Jun 24 at 3:51

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