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Problem of ordering pre-trial detention still unsolved

According to the data from the Ministry of Justice there is a drop in the number of pre-trial detention orders. In 2011, district courts issued more than 18,000 orders, whereas in 2012 the figure fell to 15,000. It seems that decisions to admit motions to order pre-trial detention filed by prosecutors are taken by courts in a somewhat automatic way. In 2012 the acceptance rate for motions to order and extend pre-trial detention was 88% and 95% respectively. The HFHR brought this issue to the attention of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

“The very number of pre-trial detention orders is falling continuously, which is a good sign. On the other hand, we’re concerned by some levels of automatism shown by courts when they decide whether to impose pre-trial detention or not”, says Katarzyna Wiśniewska, HFHR’s lawyer.

The Foundation’s intervention with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers was a response to the judgment in the case of Kauczor v. Poland. In this and a number of similar cases, the ECtHR found that Poland violated the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in relation to the right to personal freedom. The ECtHR reckoned that the practice of ordering pre-trial detention was a systemic problem. “In other words, according to the Strasbourg Court pre-trial detention orders are issued for excessively long durations and with no consideration for the individual circumstances of particular cases”, says Ms Wiśniewska.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers supervises the proper execution of the ECtHR’s judgments. The Council was informed by the government that effective measures have already been taken to tackle the problem. Towards the end of 2013, the government applied to the Committee to bring to completion the supervision procedure involving a group of judgments. But, according to the HFHR, as promising as these measures may be, they are insufficient.

“We believe that the process of execution of judgments is not over yet, because a systemic problem of human rights violations [committed in ordering pre-trial detention] has not been fully addressed”, reads the Foundation’s intervention with the Committee.

The Foundation’s intervention with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers was developed in partnership with Weil Law Firm.

The intervention is available here.

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