Defending theHuman Rightto a Fair Trial
Policy Report: Pre-Trial Detention in the EU
Pre-trial Detention Recognised as EU Priority ahead of report launch
What is the problem?
Globally, there are currently close to three million people being held in pre-trial detention. Detained without a trial and for an indefinite period, the human toll can be immense. Clearly, in some cases it is necessary to detain a person for a certain period of time after arrest, for example, to ensure vital evidence is preserved or key witnesses are protected. All states should protect the right to liberty and use pre-trial detention as a last resort, and only when properly justified.
What do we want?
Fair Trials is campaigning for international human rights standards on pre-trial detention to be more widely understood and applied in practice. In our major report published in March 2014, “Stockholm’s Sunset: New Horizons for Justice in Europe,” which built upon our 2011 report, “Detained without Trial,” we argued for the adoption of EU-wide minimum standards on pre-trial detention. These include:
What are we doing?
Fair Trials is passionate about preventing the unjustified and excessive use of pre-trial detention. The publication of our major policy report A Measure of Last Resort? The practice of pre-trial detention decision-making in the EU in May 2016 marked the completion of the first stage of our campaign. Funded by the EU Commission, we are:
Ending unjustified pre-trial detention will require a variety of solutions, including properly trained defence lawyers, clearer legal rules that are easier to apply and enforce, and the development of fair and workable alternatives to detention. Crucially, these must be adapted to local needs and challenges.
Fair Trials has built an EU-wide network of fair trials defenders who are now working with us to analyse the problems in practice with pre-trial detention in their own countries and, crucially, to design targeted solutions. Informed by their experience, we have helped to secure new laws that will give defence lawyers access to the information they need to challenge detention.
We have also led the calls for EU-wide action to tackle unjustified pre-trial detention. In 2011, the European Commission carried out a consultation on detention in the EU, with 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. We are confident that our work gathering evidence, training local defence practitioners, and producing comprehensive reports will provide a strong foundation for the ongoing campaign to enact legislative changes to pre-trial detention decision-making in the EU.
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Fair Trials Europe is a registered public foundation in Belgium (No. 552688677).
Fair Trials Europe was founded by Fair Trials International
(a registered charity with limited liability in England and Wales, Nos 1134586 and 7135273),
together they form Fair Trials.
This publication has been produced with the financial support
of the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Commission.
The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Fair Trials International
and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.