Source: Fair Trials International
Numerous defendants in Warsaw are unrepresented in pre-trial detention hearings according to a group of experts brought together by Fair Trials International. The failure to provide adequate representation and the inability of the Polish Courts to thoroughly review pre-trial motions is resulting in the unnecessary detention of many individuals.
Fair Trials International, in conjunction with Polish criminal justice experts, is calling for reforms to the current practices of pre-trial detention in Poland. Excessive use of pre-trial detention can have a devastating effect on defendants, who may lose their job and be restricted from seeing family or friends despite not having been convicted of any crime.
A report released this week illustrates the need for reforms to the widespread and often unwarranted practice of pre-trial detention. The report contains the Fair Trials International Local Expert Group’s legal and policy recommendations for the Polish Government and Court systems. The Local Expert Group calls attention to the fact, while Polish laws comply with international standards in relation to pre-trial detention, in practice detention is the general rule rather than the exception and alternatives are rarely used by the courts. This could be easily remedied with increased training for judges and lawyers who are often unaware of EU standards and best practices on pre-trial detention.
Jago Russell, Chief Executive at Fair Trials International, said:
“Our own experience of helping people detained in Poland – as well as the input of our legal networks – has long raised concerns about the over-use of pre-trial detention in Poland. This new report provides a clearer understanding of the causes of excessive pre-trial detention and once again highlights the need for the EU to take action in this area.”
Every year Fair Trials International helps hundreds of people across Europe defend their right to a fair trial. Unjustified pre-trial detention is an infringement of that right and Fair Trials International encourages Polish judges, prosecutors and law makers to take steps to address the violations that occur on a daily basis. A number of significant legal reforms are underway in Poland which, if implemented, should address some of the problems with the pre-trial detention system. We welcome these changes but more work is needed to change the practice in the Polish court system to ensure that pre-trial motions are properly reviewed, defendants have suitable representation, and all possible alternatives to detention are considered.
For more information please contact Fair Trials International on +44 (0)20 7822 2370 or +44 (0)7950 849 851