On 25 November, 2011, a consortium of six non-governmental organisations, including Human Rights Monitoring Institute, presented their submission to the European Commission and European Parliament on the Green Paper on the Application of EU Criminal Justice Legislation in the Field of Detention prepared by the European Commission.
The submission primarily covers three interrelated aspects of pretrial detention laws and practice by Member States namely non-custodial alternatives to pretrial detention; statutory maximum lengths of pretrial detention; and regular judicial review of pretrial detention. The review also provides a number of limited recommendations on children and monitoring places of detention, in particular where they relate to pretrial detention.
On 15 December, European Parliament took into account the submission of non-governmental organisations and passed a resolution calling for urgent measures to be taken to remedy the “alarming” state of prisons across the EU, and to protect prisoners’ fundamental rights and minimum common standards for detention conditions in all EU countries.
An “alarming picture“ of prison overcrowding, a growing prison population, ever more foreign nationals being held, large numbers of pre-trial detainees, detainees with mental and psychological disorders and many cases of death and suicide, is painted in the Commission‘s Green Paper on the Application of EU Criminal Justice Legislation in the Field of Detention, MEPs noted.
Prison conditions must be consistent with human dignity and the rights of suspects or accused persons must be guaranteed, including the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment, European Parliament stressed. Pre-trial detention must remain an exceptional measure to be used under strict conditions and for a limited period of time, it added. Providing decent conditions for prisoners and granting them access to schemes to prepare them for a return to society should also help to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend, MEPs said.
One problem that Member States often point to is a lack of resources to improve prison conditions. MEPs therefore called for a specific EU budget heading to be created with a view to encouraging them to comply with high standards.
The total prison population of the EU was estimated at 633,909 for 2009-2010.
See the Submission of consortium of non-governmental organisations here.
See the European Commission Green Paper on the Application of EU Criminal Justice Legislation in the Field of Detention here.
See the European Parliament Resolution on Detention Conditions in the EU here.