Conditions in jails across the EU vary widely an on Wednesday MEPs asked members of the Council and Commission about differences in detention conditions, deteriorating conditions in EU prisons, abuses in pre-trial detention, overcrowding and the detention of non-EU nationals.
Free movement of people has led to an increasing number of EU citizens being detained in member states other than their own, where conditions could be very different.
A Green Paper published by the Commission in June, following numerous requests by the EP for EU-wide minimum standards for prison and detention conditions and a common set of prisoners' rights, highlights the discrepancies in standards across the EU.
It noted that detainees were often held in cramped, overcrowded cells, that some member states have no legal maximum length for pre-trial detention and that the , treatment of non-EU nationals and poor detention conditions often hamper the rehabilitation of prisoners upon release.
Detention conditions and prison management falls under the responsibility of Member States. But poor conditions may undermine the trust necessary to underpin judicial cooperation between EU countries.
Questions tabled by S&D, ALDE, GUE/NGL, EPP and the Greens raise issues including how the Commission intends to address the protection of fundamental rights for all prisoners enshrined in the EU Charter and what the Council will do to promote minimum detention and prison standards and a common set of prisoners' rights including appropriate compensation rules for persons unjustly detained or convicted.