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Flight Risk in Europe

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Pre-trial detention, holding a suspect in custody before trial, is a critical but controversial issue in the EU. While it can be necessary in some cases, overuse contributes to prison overcrowding and potentially violates human rights.

Flight risk is a common justification for pre-trial detention, but the assessment process is often flawed.  Instead of focusing on individual circumstances, decisions may be based on stereotypes about socioeconomic status or nationality. This disproportionately affects vulnerable populations such as the poor, minorities, and immigrants.  While the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) sets standards, prosecutors and judges may   request and order detention too readily.

A recent report by Fair Trials sheds light on how the ECHR standards can be better implemented and explores regional practices for assessing flight risk. Based on national reports from across the EU, the report provides valuable insights into how pre-trial detention is used and how it can be reformed.

In the framework of the FLIGHTRISK project co-funded by the European Union, national reports were produced by partner organizations: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights (Austria), Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), Irish Council for Civic Liberties (Ireland), and National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology (Belgium).