FLIGHTRISK: Assessing the risk of flight during pre-trial detention

About the Project

Research Topic & Roadmap

Prison overcrowding  is a well-known pan-European phenomenon that has been fostering inhumane and degrading treatment during detention for many years. Reducing pre-trial detention offers a sustainable solution to counteract this development.

The project starts from this premise and investigates the most common reason for pre-trial detention in the EU: flight risk (the risk of absconding). It will be carried out between June 2022 and April 2024 in five EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland and Poland). The objective of the project is to identify and mitigate the causes for the increased use of pre-trial detention.

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights will conduct the research on the Austrian national context as a project partner.

Research Focus

The project will focus on the following aspects:

  • Strengthening human rights standards in relation to the imposition of pre-trial detention
  • Analysing the national decision-making practices in imposing pre-trial detention by both the judiciary and the public prosecution office, particularly with regard to flight risk
  • Assessing to which extent decisions regarding pre-trial detention as well as the application of less severe means are influenced by the circumstance that the person concerned is in a particularly vulnerable situation (e.g. marginalised persons)

Other research projects that focused on reducing pre-trial detention (e.g. EAW-ALT) already demonstrated that the issue is highly relevant in Austria. The research results are supported by the statistics from recent years: in 2019, Austria reached a record high in the number of detained persons. Also now, almost every fifth detainee is being held in pre-trial detention.

Consequently, the Austrian context offers further distinct aspects that have not been investigated until now and on which the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights will focus its research:

  • According to current data, the reason for pre-trial detention is no longer predominantly the risk of absconding alone– a development that needs to be analysed.
  • Austria also lends itself to analysis from the perspective of equality and non-discrimination, as 65% of the prison population in pre-trial detention do not hold Austrian citizenship. This figure is the highest compared to the partner countries.

Research Method

The research includes case law analysis, data analysis and consultations with judges, prosecutors, lawyers and civil society representatives.

Project Data