The European Commission opens a public consultation on how to strengthen mutual trust in the field of detention

Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, presented a Green Paper asking ten questions on how to strengthen mutual trust in the field of detention. The Green Paper kicks off a public consultation that it has as main goal to seek views on detention in the EU's area of justice, in order to explore more closely the links between detention issues and mutual trust in such area.

The European Commission make sure judicial cooperation in the EU works and fundamental rights are respected when EU mutual recognition instruments – such as the European Arrest Warrant – are implemented. From 2004, the European Arrest Warrant provides a tool for extraditing people suspected of an offence from one EU country to another, so that criminals have no hiding place in Europe. However, if judges refuse to extradite accused persons because detention conditions in the requesting country are substandard, the system is impeded.

Moreover, the time that a person can spend in detention before being tried in court and during court proceedings varies a lot between Member States. In some countries, a person can be held in pre-trial detention for up to four years. This sort of decisions are detrimental for the individual, can prejudice judicial cooperation between Member States and run counter to EU values. Prison overcrowding and allegations of poor treatment of detainees may also undermine the trust that is necessary for judicial cooperation within the European Union.

The Commission's public consultation launched together with the Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention, is open to legal practitioners, those working in prisons and probation services, national administrations, non-governmental organisations and anyone else with an interest in detention issues. Responses can be submitted until 30 November 2011.