Launch of a research project on access to rights and to court for remand prisoners

In September 2017, the CNRS (Laboratories SAGE (Strasbourg) and CESDIP (Saint Quentin en Yvelines)) and the European Prison Litigation Network launched together with partner universities and NGOs from nine European countries a research project on the protection of fundamental rights and access to legal aid for remand prisoners in the European Union. The project is supported with funds of the European Commission for eighteen months.

This project aims at strengthening the judicial protection of fundamental rights of remand prisoners in the European Union and promoting harmonisation of national legislations in the field of access to rights and to court for remand prisoners.

The project gathers ten partners from European countries : CNRS (Laboratories SAGE and CESDIP), European Prison Litigation NetworkUniversity of Utrecht, Helsinki Foundation for Human RightsUniversity of Applied Sciences and Arts of DortmundUniversity of FlorenceBulgarian Helsinki CommitteeUniversity of GhentGeneral Council of the Spanish BarUniversity of Comillas.

As regard to the violation of fundamental rights in detention, the legal aid systems, the tools giving access to the law and the measures adopted to allow for the intervention of lawyers in prison greatly differ depending on the country. Such differences largely account for the great disparities observed with regards to access to a judge and the effectiveness of rights. As a matter of fact, it appears that access to legal resources in detention and the external intermediaries for prisoners’ complaints are critical factors in the judicial protection in detention. In addition, the attention devoted to this dimension is greatly insufficient at the European level, whether EU law or ECHR law is concerned.

Building on these observations, the project aims at mapping laws and practices in the EU as regard to legal aid with the aim of protecting the rights of prisoners in pretrial detention (conditions of detention and aspects which have an impact on criminal proceedings: security, transfers, geographic distance…) in nine countries of the EU (Czech Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain). The project will also analyse the conditions for the inclusion in European law of procedural obligations regarding legal aid for remand prisoners and intends to launch an advocacy campaign in this regard.

Without waiting for legislative intervention at EU level, the project will carry out action aiming at directly strengthening rights of prisoners in pretrial detention, through the dissemination to relevant stakeholders of information on legal aid mechanisms for the defense in court of the rights of remand prisoners, recommendations to the authorities and national bar associations on best practices especially adapted to the prison context and provision of digital tools and resources for the use of detained persons and prisoners’ defenders.

> Read more about the project

This project is funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014-2020)

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