ERA recently finalised a series of seminars on improving conditions and finding alternatives to detention. The final seminar of five took place at ERA’s conference centre in Trier on 1-2 June 2017, entitled: ‘Improving Detention Conditions at EU Level: Best Practice, Legislation and the Follow-Up to the European Commission’s Green Paper’.
As the title of the event suggests, the main focus was on the follow-up to the EU’s Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention and progress that has been made since then, but also effective national supervision of detention conditions and good practices in prison management.
The event was intended primarily for judges, prosecutors, lawyers in private practice, ministry officials and officials from prison administrations, the probation system and prison monitoring bodies. It also served to summarise the findings and give an overview of the main items that were discussed in the previous four seminars, one of which also included a prison visit just outside Bucharest. The previous events broadly covered the following topics:
In the opening part of the seminar, with the title of ‘Improving Measures Related to Detention: Conditions at EU Level’ various speakers looked at different aspects of matters that require further attention and action. The speaker from the World Prison Brief gave an overview of managing prisons and developing appropriate policies on imprisonment, analysing where EU Member States fit within the global picture and within the context of the Brief. The European Prison Observatory’s speaker gave an overview of the latest prison policies in Europe, looking at effective prison management, national monitoring and dealing with overcrowding and implementing alternatives to imprisonment. The session as concluded with a look at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s findings from two reports it has compiled in the field of detention, as well as a state of play of EU action in the field of detention by the European Commission. It was clearly stated that no new legislative proposal in the field of pre-trail detention will be forthcoming and that the focus still remains on the proper implementation and use of the relevant FDs. Moreover, no new actions will be taken in the foreseeable future to change the way the EAW is used.
The seminar then went on to explore good practices in prison management, looking at issues of good governance and supervision by inspecting authorities in relation to prison needs and effective training of prison staff and ensuring education of prisoners, on the basis of respective examples from Germany and Sweden. The next session looked at the role of National Preventive Mechanisms and case studies in both Poland and Germany, The first day was concluded with the beginning of the session on better prison management and monitoring in Europe within the context of the relevant framework decisions and the EAW, which consisted of a summary of the findings of a joint project that was organised by ERA together with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) on mutual trust and the prevention of ill-treatment, looking at how judicial cooperation and the engagement of national preventive mechanisms can be improved.
The second day of the seminar continued on the he same session, with Fair Trials Europe giving insights into the latest developments in relation to the practice of pre-trial decision-making in the EU and its effects. The last two presentations of the day were dedicated to FD 909 and FDs 947 and 829 respectively, looking at latest developments, issues, processes and practices in relation to their use, as well as overcoming practical issues.
The seminar was concluded with three simultaneous workshops, one on applying FD 909 in practice, another on applying FDs 947 and 829 in practice and one on effective tools in prison management, monitoring and treatment of prisoners. All three workshops offered all participants and speakers the possibility to exchange experiences, best practice and see what is working well and what is not. Overall, it could be concluded at the end of the workshops that whilst there is a general consensus on the need for further improvements in relation to the way the FDs are implemented and information is exchanged on them, as well as on how prisoners are treated, prisons are run and also effectively monitored, there are still dividing opinions amongst Member States on how best to achieve this. However, there was consensus that the momentum for the implementation and effective operation of the relevant Framework Decisions in all Member States, along with a sense of mutual trust and cooperation, needs to be maintained and even increased.
More information about the seminar on the ERA website click here.
The radicalisation project series continues with two more seminars scheduled:
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union