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Fair Trials convenes leading European criminal justice players to discuss pre-trial detention reform

admin - April 25, 2018 - Pre-trial detention

Today, April 25th, Fair Trials and its pan-European network of fair trials defenders, the Legal Experts Advisory Panel, are convening a meeting at the European Parliament of leading European criminal justice organizations and networks to discuss how to address the overuse of pre-trial detention in Europe.

This event is being co-hosted by MEPs Judith Sargentini and Birgit Sippel. It will be attended by representatives from organizations that have studied the overuse of pre-trial detention in Europe, including civil society and academic consortiums, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture , the European Parliament’s Research Service, and from leading European professional networks concerned with pre-trial detention practices, such as those representing lawyers (European Criminal Bar Association, Defence Extradition Lawyers Forum), bars and law societies (the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe), probation  services (Confederation of European Probation), prison services (European Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services) and academics (European Criminal Law Academic Network).

This year pre-trial detention reform was quietly dropped from the Commission’s agenda, in spite of increasing awareness of need for such reform. Since the publication of Fair Trials’ 2016 report, A Measure of Last Resort? The practice of pre-trial detention decision making in the EU, institutions from across the spectrum have published studies that have confirmed Fair Trials’ concerning findings regarding the overuse of pre-trial detention in Europe. These have included the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the European Parliament’s Research Service.

The Court of Justice of the EU has also placed pre-trial detention issues at the centre of the EU’s flagship cross-border criminal justice mechanism, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), ruling that persons may only be held in detention pending decision on extradition pursuant to an EAW in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) standards and that extradition should not happen if there is a risk to cruel and inhuman treatment, such as overcrowding in the detention facilities in the country requesting the extradition. Yet, as the various reports and studies that have been issued since Fair Trials’ report confirm, the overuse of pre-trial detention continues to be one of the biggest reasons that countries are found to violate the ECHR and overuse of pre-trial detention continues to be a leading cause of prison overcrowding.

These issues will be discussed at the meeting with the view to charting a course for how the EU might resolve these problems and how the organizations and networks present may work together for reform.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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