Across the EU, people who have not been convicted of any crime are locked up without good reason for months or even years, often in appalling conditions, with limited access to a lawyer.
All states should protect the right to liberty and not use detention except where properly justified. Clearly, in some cases it is necessary to hold a person in custody for a certain period of time after arrest, for example, to ensure vital evidence is preserved or key witnesses are protected. But pre-trial detention is only acceptable where no alternative is available. Detention conditions must be sanitary, safe and humane. Even if pre-trial detention is justified, those held in detention should be given:
- facilities to prepare a defence;
- confidential communications with their lawyer; and
- a regular review of whether detention remains necessary.
Fair Trials International is calling on the EU to stop excessive detention without trial, and to require EU countries to make more use of alternatives. This includes not using pre-trial detention when alternatives are available; introducing EU legislation to end its arbitrary use; and not using extradition until cases are trial-ready. In 2011 the European Commission carried out a consultation on detention in the EU, and the responses showed widespread support for action from civil society and member states. The European parliament has also called for reform of pre-trial detention in the EU.
Fair Trials will continue to campaign to end excessive and arbitrary pre-trial detention, publishing data on 15 countries’ detention systems and using our clients’ shocking first-hand accounts of their detention to highlight the effects it can have.
Fair Trials International has produced a summary booklet on Pre-Trial Detention, which is available below. The summary is also available in French, Polish and Spanish.
DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL BOOKLETDÉTENTION SANS PROCÈS – FRANÇAISTYMCZASOWE ARESZTOWANIE – POLSKIDETENCIÓN SIN JURICIO -ESPAÑOLDETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL FULL REPORTPRE-TRIAL DETENTION – CAMPAIGN TIMELINEEUROPEAN COMMISSION GREEN PAPER ON PRE-TRIAL DETENTION