Defending theHuman Rightto a Fair Trial
August 6, 2013
Suspects in Greece are frequently held in excessive and unjustified pre-trial detention and in breach of human rights standards – according to a group of expert lawyers from Greece.
The lawyers’ concerns were reported in a meeting convened by Fair Trials International and are published in this communiqué. The communiqué (available in Greek and English) follows significant criticism – including from courts and human rights monitoring bodies – about the use of pre-trial detention in Greece. The views of these lawyers provide a more detailed understanding as to why this is happening and how this abuse can be prevented.
Drawing on their experiences of dozens of cases each year, the lawyers reported that Greek courts frequently order pre-trial detention according to factors prohibited by domestic and international law. Many suspects are detained because of the seriousness of the offence alone, rather than concerns about whether a suspect will attend trial. Lawyers also expressed concern that some judges use pre-trial detention as a way of punishing suspects and satisfying a public appetite for justice.
The communiqué provides a number of recommendations on ways the Greek government and judiciary can bring its systems in line with human rights standards – such as improving training for judges and increasing the availability of electronic tagging and other alternatives. More information on criminal justice in Greece is available at our interactive map.
Fair Trials has now held similar meetings in a number of EU countries to discuss the way pre-trial detention is used and how this can be improved. Our communiqués from Spain, Poland and Hungary have previously raised concerns about breaches of international standards. As a result, Fair Trials is calling on the EU to deliver minimum standards to govern the use of pre-trial detention in its 28 Member States.
Our cases from across Europe and beyond continue to show the devastating impact of unnecessary pre-trial detention on the lives of suspects and their families. Not only are suspects often held for months or years without good reason, but they often face limitations on accessing a lawyer – making it much more difficult to prepare an effective defence. A number of our clients discuss their experiences of pre-trial detention – and its consequences for their fair trial rights – in this video.
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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Fair Trials Europe is a registered public foundation in Belgium (No. 552688677).
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