Pretrial detention has multiple negative effects both on the
detainee and on society as a whole. The European Convention on Human
Rights establishes limits for the use of pretrial detention and
rules applying to the treatment of pretrial detainees.
The high number of pretrial detainees in Europe is an indication
that the permissible grounds for pretrial detention, notably to
prevent a suspect from absconding or interfering with witnesses
and/or other evidence, are – in a number of instances – interpreted
too widely or invoked pro forma in order to justify pretrial detention for
other, abusive purposes. These abusive grounds for pretrial detention
aim to put pressure on detainees in order to coerce them into confessing
to a crime or testifying against a third person; to discredit or
otherwise neutralise political competitors or to promote other political
objectives; to put pressure on detainees in order to compel them
to sell their businesses or to extort bribes from them, and to intimidate
civil society and silence critical voices.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, noting a
certain number of root causes for the abusive use of pretrial detention,
calls on States Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights
to implement specific measures aimed at reducing pretrial detention
and stamping out its abuse.