In many European countries the persistent problem of overcrowding in prisons is due to a large extent to the high proportion of remand prisons among the total prison population.
In its annual report, published today, the CPT stresses the need for member states to ensure the use, to the extent possible, of alternative measures to pre-trial detention such as provisional suspension of detention, bail, house arrest, electronic monitoring, removal of passports and judicial supervision. In the CPT’s view, these measures should also be considered for foreign nationals, who are frequently held on remand because they are considered to constitute a higher risk of flight.
The Council of Europe´s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: “The CPT has regularly identified serious shortcomings in the conditions in which pre-trial prisoners are held in Europe. I call on states to ensure that their conditions of detention are in line with human rights standards and that pre-trial detention is only applied if absolutely necessary, which can help to reduce prison overcrowding.”
“Detention on remand can have severe psychological effects – suicide rates among remand prisoners can be several times higher than among sentenced prisoners – and other serious consequences, such as the breaking up of family ties or the loss of employment or accommodation”, said the CPT President Mykola Gnatovskyy.
“Remand detention should be imposed for the shortest time possible. It should be based on a case-by-case evaluation of the risks of committing a new crime, of absconding, of tampering with evidence or witnesses or of interfering with the course of justice”, he added.