Pre-trial detention should be ‘last resort,’ CoE says

Pre-trial detention should be ‘last resort,’ CoE says

Pre-trial detention should be ‘last resort,’ CoE says The Council of Europe has said pre-trial detention should either be avoided as much as possible or used as a “last resort,” noting the abusive use of pre-trial detention for politically motivated purposes is seen in several countries including Turkey.

“Pre-trial detention should be used only ‘exceptionally, as a last resort,’” Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said during its plenary session in Strasbourg, France, on Oct. 1.

Citing examples from counties, including Turkey, PACE noted that “abusive grounds” for pre-trial detention were sometimes used, in particular to intimidate civil society and silence critical voices. 

PACE said abusive grounds on which pre-trial detention was used against critical voices had been observed in Turkey. Council of Europe Rapporteur Pedro Agramunt said several cases of abusing pre-trial detention in Turkey had worried him, such as “those of young activists, including two 16 and 17 year-old high school students in Konya, and several others in different parts of Turkey, who were placed in pre-trial detention for insulting the president.”

“Putting young activists in pre-trial detention for several weeks for slogans chanted at protest meetings or letting off steam in social media effectively amounts to summary punishment, to set examples intended to intimidate others. This is not what pre-trial detention is for,” he added.

PACE also said the highest number of detainees without final sentence per 100,000 inhabitants was in Turkey, noting that pre-trial had negative effects both on the detainee and on society as a whole. One example noted the risk of detainees being exposed to violence by other inmates and officials.

According to PACE, the root causes of the abusive pre-trial detention are “a political and legal culture which rewards those who are perceived as tough on crime, at the expense of the presumption of innocence,” and an imbalance between the prosecution and the defense in terms of power.