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NEWS

The Public Health Need to Keep People out of Detention - Practical Guidance

FairTrialsAdmin - March 21, 2020 - Pre-trial detention, COVID-19 Updates, Guides

 

Fair Trials has long been at the forefront of the movement to reduce the use of pre-trial detention in Europe and around the world, urging courts to impose the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure the course of justice can take place.  


The grip of COVID-19 across the globe has made the liberty of arrested people take on a new urgency. Incarcerated people are some of the most vulnerable to infectious disease due to poor access to sanitation and health facilities, unsanitary conditions and often overcrowded detention facilities, making physical distance and isolation impossible.  


One of the most important public health measures to combat COVID-19 is restriction of physical contact and proximity. But the very nature of incarceration makes this practically impossible. As staff contract the virus and visitation is suspended, tension and violence also increase, leading to further risks to the life and health of both residents and prison staff.

  
The only way to preserve public health and safety and protect the right to life, is to reduce the number of people in detention facilities. With pre-trial detainees making up a third and more of the prison population in many countries, reducing the use of pre-trial detention would protect the health not only of detained persons, but also the many professionals who come into contact with people in detention (including detention staff and lawyers) and the families and communities to which both staff and prison residents return. 


Fair Trials urges all judicial authorities and criminal justice actors to take urgent action to reduce the number of people being held in pre-trial detention immediately as a matter of public health and safety, and to place arrested persons in pre-trial detention only as a measure of last resort.  

Read our recommendations. (available in German and in French)

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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