Six months since MEPs voted, but still no sign of action on pre-trial detention in Europe
Fair Trials International and lawyers from across Europe have today written to MEPs expressing concern about the failure to tackle unjustified pre-trial detention in the EU, which the Commission itself estimates costs almost €5 billion each year and unnecessarily ruins lives. It is six months today since the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported a resolution to raise standards on the use of pre-trial detention. The European Commission has not stated what action it will take, despite having launched a consultation on the issue more than a year ago.
The letter, which is signed by 23 lawyers from 15 jurisdictions, urges MEPs to renew their calls on the European Commission to take action. The letter points out that pre-trial detention should only be used when strictly necessary, for example, to protect witnesses or preserve evidence. If pre-trial detention is justified, detainees must have: facilities to prepare a defence; confidential communications with their lawyer; and a regular review of whether detention remains necessary. The letter calls for:
• New EU laws setting minimum standards for the use of pre-trial detention;
• Effective use of the European Supervision Order and other alternatives to pre-trial detention;
• Deferred extradition under European Arrest Warrants, until the case is ready for trial; and
• Steps by the EU towards establishing a one year maximum pre-trial detention limit.