The excessive use and length of pre-trial detention is one of the main causes of prison overcrowding. In case of risk of flight, suspects who are not resident in the Member State where proceedings take place are often remanded in custody, while resident suspects benefit from alternative measures (outside prison).
According to the general principles of law, custody pending trial must be regarded as an exceptional measure and the widest possible use should be made of non-custodial (outside prison) supervision measures. EU citizens who are suspected for an offence in another Member State did, until now, often not qualify for such alternatives as they mostly did not have a residence in the Member State where they were suspected.
The 2009 Framework Decision on supervision measures as an alternative to pre-trial detention (European Supervision Order) enables EU Member States to mutually recognise non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures (outside prison).
A Greek judge can, for example, order that a Swede, who is suspected of having committed an offence in Greece, reports to his or her local police authority in Sweden twice a month instead of doing this in Greece. This saves a lot of money and helps to reduce the number of pre-trial detainees in the European Union as a whole. At the same time, it reinforces the right to liberty and the presumption of innocence in the European Union and decreases the risk of unequal treatment of suspected persons that are not resident in the country where they are suspected of having committed a criminal offence.
When the trial comes up and the suspect refuses to attend on a voluntary basis, he or she can be forcibly (by means of a European arrest warrant) transferred to the State where proceedings are to take place.
Member States had until 1st December 2012 to transpose this instrument into their national law.
To obtain more detailed information on implementation by the different Member States, please click here.
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