More than 100,000 suspects are currently are detained pre-trial across the EU. While pre-trial detention has an important part to play in some criminal proceedings, ensuring that certain defendants will be brought to trial, it is being used excessively at huge cost to the national economies.
Unjustified and excessive pre-trial detention clearly impacts on the right to liberty and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It also affects the ability of the detained person to access fully their right to a fair trial, particularly due to restrictions on their ability to prepare their defence and gain access to a lawyer.
Furthermore, prison conditions may also endanger the suspect’s well-being. For these reasons, international human rights standards including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) require that pre-trial detention is used as an exceptional measure of last resort.
The objective of the project is to provide a unique evidence base regarding what, in practice, is causing the use of pre-trial detention. It is hoped that these findings will inform the development of future initiatives aiming at reducing the use of pre-trial detention at domestic and EU-level.
The Pre-Trial Detention Project was co-funded by the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Commission.