Mutual recognition of post-trial measures

In November 2008, two Framework Decisions were adopted which enable better social rehabilitation in the home country of persons sentenced in another Member State than that in which they normally reside.

Framework Decision allowing for probation in the home country

The 2008 Framework Decision on probation measures and alternative sanctions makes it possible for a person sentenced and released on probation, or given an alternative sanction, in a Member State other than his or her own, to be sent back to the Member State where he or she is normally resident. The sentence is supervised by the Member State where the person is normally resident. The underlying idea is that the social rehabilitation of the person can be more easily achieved in his or her home country.

Member States had until 6 December 2011 to transpose this instrument into their national law.

To date, the only international law instrument on cross-border assistance with probation is the1964 Council of Europe Convention on the supervision of conditionally sentenced or conditionally released offenders. It has so far been ratified by only 12 Member States, some of them subject to numerous reservations. This has limited the importance of the instrument in practice. The Framework Decision will replace, in relations between the Member States, the corresponding provisions of the Council of Europe Convention.

In 2009 Belgium's Ministry of Justice initiated a European project focussed on the implementation of the Framework Decision. Co-funded by the European Commission and conducted in partnership with seven EU Member States and the European Organisation for Probation (CEP), the project seeks to improve mutual knowledge of national systems relating to probation measures and to identify the difficulties entailed in transposing this instrument into law and implementing it in practice. One result of the project is the creation of an Internet site: The site provides an overview of the different legal systems for dealing with probation within the European Union and briefly explains the main steps underpinning the project.

Framework Decision on transfer of prisoners to their home country

The 2008 Framework Decision on custodial sentences enables the transfer of prisoners back to their country of normal residence. The underlying idea is, as in the case of probation, that the social rehabilitation of the person can be more easily achieved in his or her home country.

This Framework Decision automatically replaces such agreements as the European Convention on the transfer of sentenced persons (1983) and its Additional Protocol (1997) in respect of relations between all EU Member States. These Conventions will remain in force in relation to non-EU countries.

A real improvement, as regards the Framework Decision in relation to the Convention, lies in the channel of communication between the States involved. Under the Convention, requests for transfer are made between the Ministries of Justice of each State. The Framework Decision provides instead for direct contact between the responsible authorities.

Member States had until 5 December 2011 to transpose this instrument into their national law.

Last update: 09/10/2013

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