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Publication date:11 December 2019

Criminal detention conditions in the European Union: rules and reality

This report looks at five core aspects of detention conditions in EU Member States: the size of cells; the amount of time detainees can spend outside of these cells, including outdoors; sanitary conditions; access to healthcare; and whether detainees are protected from violence. For each of these aspects of detention conditions, the report first summarises the minimum standards at international and European levels. It then looks at how these standards are translated into national laws and other rules of the EU Member States.


The project will develop an online one-stop-shop for judges and other practitioners when transferring individuals using the European Arrest Warrant to assess the compatibility of criminal detention conditions with fundamental rights.


Following the Agency’s 2016 study relating to the Framework Decisions on mutual recognition, the European Commission requested the Agency to look at conditions of detention. It is looking for suggestions on how the findings of existing monitoring mechanisms and promising practices could be made best use of in the EU. Currently there is no database that collates all of this information in one place.


This project will use desk research across all Member States. Data will be collected on the national standards of detention in each Member State. This will be added to an online database available via the FRA website.

The online tool will consist of (1) a comparative table comparing the basic conditions of detention in all Member States against international standards set by various bodies; (2) a practitioners guide (in the form of a checklist or flow chart) to assist judges with the execute European Arrest Warrant in line with jurisprudence from the EU’s Court of Justice; and (3) a database of relevant jurisprudence and reports by relevant bodies.