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NEWS

Where next for pre-trial detention?

editor - October 9, 2015 - European Parliament, Pre-trial detention

Last month, Fair Trials coordinated two days of discussion andIMG_1294 debate around the global issue of pre-trial detention. The event brought together experts from not only the project partner organisations, but criminal justice experts across Europe. It was a unique opportunity for those present to discuss the information gathered in the local reports, in order to identify common problems and share good practice. The issue is not going away, making the work on the issue of those present increasingly important.
Aside from the findings - which will help to inform a regional report early next year - there were a number of shocking stories from participants. Perhaps the most shocking of these was the pre-trial detention of one individual, despite being in a coma. The case raises questions over the burden of proof in pre-trial detention cases, and asks what consideration could have been given ahead of the decision to place the individual in detention over the likelihood of absconding, or what the potential dangers of evidence tampering were.
Minimum standards on pre-trial detention remains a priority for Fair Trials and the work of LEAP: The EU must bring forward effective legal safeguards against the use of excessive and unjustified pre-trial detention in order to protect individuals and preserve the principle of mutual recognition based on mutual trust.
Since 2011, Fair Trials has led a detention campaign to tackle the excessive and unjustified use of pre-trial detention within the EU. In October 2011, we published a major report – Detained without Trial – in response to the European Commission’s Green Paper on detention. Subsequent LEAP meetings in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Poland, Greece, and Lithuania over the two years that followed affirmed that issues with the pre-trial detention decision making processes do indeed contribute to the overuse of pre-trial detention, and highlighted the need for reliable evidence.
IMG_1287No legislative action has yet been taken at the EU level with regard to strengthening the rights of defendants facing pre-trial detention, but the European Commission is currently conducting an Impact Assessment for an EU measure on pre-trial detention to which Fair Trials and LEAP have contributed.
Whilst pre-trial detention continues to be so prevalent, it is worth remembering that the ECHR obliges states to consider alternative measures to detention. All other alternatives that might be effective should be considered carefully, and preferred, and if alternatives measures are rejected, reasons must be given. Whether this is the case in practice remains to be seen, but some answers may come in the project partner’s individual Country Reports. These reports, when published, will highlight their findings and provide practical recommendations to reduce the use of PTD.
The conference would not have been possible without the support of Clifford Chance, Open Society Foundations, and the European Commission.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on 020 7822 2370 or 07950 849 851.

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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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