Improving conditions and finding alternatives to detention 2016-2017


The project aims to provide practical training to a broad spectrum of legal professionals and practitioners in the field of detention through five seminars, two in Strasbourg, the seat of the ECtHR and its legislation in the area of detention and the Council of Europe and its standards in the field of detention, both of which should be adhered to by all Member States. Each seminar will group participants from Member States, in order to allow for an optimal exchange of national and European experiences and to enhance networking possibilities. This approach, consisting of presentations and workshops (where deemed appropriate), allowing for an exchange of ideas and good practice between practitioners and international and European organisations, presents an added value. It allows for an analysis of issues and improving conditions, amongst others for juveniles and identifying good practices in prison management and how best to deal with offenders’ rehabilitation, as well as looking at alternatives to imprisonment. The project will address, within the context of detention and alternatives, training in relation to the understanding and correct implementation of the FDs dealing with issues of mutual trust and recognition, namely FDs 829, 909 and 947, and the EAW. Moreover, also within this context, detention conditions; good practices in prison management, coordination among the different prison monitoring bodies will be examined by inviting all of the relevant actors to present and participate at the seminars, and by providing a platform to discuss the effective follow-up of the Commission’s Green Paper on detention, including possible new legislation in the field of pre-trial detention.

The concept of the project was developed on the grounds of the still diverging application of legal instruments meant to facilitate criminal justice in the EU, such as on mutual recognition, the European Arrest Warrant, the European Supervision Order, etc. and their effect on detention related matters. Moreover, the different standards still in place within various Member States of the EU when it comes to detention conditions, prison management and supervision, as well as alternatives to detention, made it apparent that there is a need for an exchange of best practice and experience in the field between various actors, so as to facilitate a more coherent European approach to the matter, as envisaged by the Commission’s Green Paper. Furthermore, the link between detention minimum standards, as set out by the Council of Europe and the ECtHR in its judgments, remain of utmost relevance in relation to the applicability of the EAW, FDs 829, 909 and 947 in relation to detention and possible infringements of these standards by the Member States.

This project builds and improves on two other projects awarded to ERA on detention by the European Commission in the past.

The major objectives that the project aims to achieve are the following:

  1. Raise awareness of issues surrounding detention, improving conditions and alternatives to it.
  2. Improve application of relevant instruments (FDs 829, 909, 947 and EAW) due to real-time training, including workshops where relevant
  3. Enhance knowledge and better understanding of ECtHR case-law and the European Prison Rules.
  4. Allow for an exchange of best practice and experiences in matters relating to detention, improving conditions and alternatives to it.
  5. Strengthen mutual trust and networking between judicial authorities and practitioners in the field, as well as prison administrations and prison monitoring bodies throughout the EU.
  6. Contribute to the discussion about a need for new EU legislation in the field of pre-trial detention and the proportionality of the use of the EAW in relation to (pre-trial) detention.


5 seminars:

  1. The ECHR, the ECtHR and national courts’ role in improving conditions related to detention: case law, ECHR articles, best practice and mutual trust and recognition of judicial decisions, as well as pre-trail detention, the EAW and FD 829 (European Supervision Order) (EN, Strasbourg, 25-26 February 2016)
  1. The supervision of matters related to detention: The CoE’s & international bodies’ work in improving conditions: Focus on CoE’s legal body (European Prison Rules, CPT); SPT, OHCHR, alternatives to imprisonment, improving detention conditions, coordination between prison monitoring bodies and good practices in prison management (EN & FR, Strasbourg, 23-24 June 2016)
  1. The impact of detention on prisoners: impact assessment – comparison of different practices in Member States, focus on juvenile justice in relation to detention, the planned Directive on the rights of children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings and the application and correct use of FD 909 (transfer of prisoners) (EN & ES, Madrid, 27-28 October 2016)
  1. Improving detention conditions at an EU level: Best practice, legislation, Commission’s Green Paper on Detention and possible new EU legislation in the field of pre-trial detention, the proper implementation of FDs 829, 909 and 947 and the EAW in relation to detention (EN & RO, Bucharest, February 2017). More information about the seminar click here.
  1. Alternatives to detention: Best practice, viable alternatives and the application of FD 947 (probation and alternative sanctions), including a prison visit (EN & DE, Trier, June 2017). More information about the seminar click here.

Leading partner: Academy of European Law (ERA)

Project partners: Council of Europe;  European Judicial Training Network; EuroPris; International Juvenile Justice Observatory; Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter/German National Agency for the Prevention of Torture; Polish Human Rights Defender; Defensor del Pueblo/Spanish Ombudsman; Spanish Centre for Legal Studies (CEJ); Romanian National Institute of Magistracy (NIM).

Duration: November 2015 – October 2017

Contact person: Ramin Farinpour, ERA,, +49 651 937 37 310

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