Pre-trial detention: police, prosecutors’ and investigating judges’ perspective (2014)

February 6, 2014

In February 2014 HRMI presented the study “Pre-trial detention: police, prosecutors’ and investigating judges’ perspective”. The study seeks to determine the officers’ outlook on the use of this restrictive measure in criminal proceedings, as well as the problems related to it.

Arrest and pre-trial detention are the most human rights restricting measures that can be imposed on a person in the course of a criminal investigation. During the last five years in Lithuania pre-trial detention was used more than ten times as frequently as its closest, more lenient alternatives – house arrest and bail.This study seeks to answer why law enforcement institutions tend to very often request the procedural measure imposing maximum restriction on a person’s liberty – pre-trial detention, and why the courts order it so willingly while more lenient alternatives are chosen far more rarely.

Research was conducted using qualitative research methodology, by questioning police officers, prosecutors and investigating judges in semi-structured interviews. The study confirms the existence of substantial systemic problems related to the use of liberty restricting measures. Possibly the most serious of these is the deliberate abuse of pre-trial detention. A significant part of the study participants confirmed that pre-trial detention is sometimes sought while fully understanding that it is not necessary. Despite that, the most severe restrictive measure is sometimes employed to achieve goals not provided for in the Code of Criminal Procedure.